The Ultimate Guide to Rings

Posted in Jewelry 101 on June 8, 2020

In modern society, rings are the most common type of jewelry among men and women. In this guide to rings, our aim is to give you the basics. A ring is a circular gold, silver, or some other high-quality material banded together, that is worn on a finger. Whether it is to display wealth, high status, or authority. Most often used for symbolic functions concerning marriage. A ring is almost always made of hard material: metal, wood, glass, plastic, etc. Rings are expected to be worn on the finger however, there are rings for other body parts too. 

We will briefly go over the history of wedding and engagement rings. It’s wise to know where things originate from. After that, we’ll look at elements that the ring consists of. What’s the difference between the engagement ring and the wedding ring? You find out soon enough, keep reading. With that we dive into types of rings, to understand the basic variety of rings. Do you know which finger you should put your ring to? All this you can find here.

thumbnail picture of containing 3 rings

History of wedding and engagement rings

The history of wedding rings is a lot more complicated than we know and diamond engagement rings are far more modern than you may realize. No one knows for sure when we started using rings to symbolize marriage first began but there is little doubt it started from Egyptians. Historians believe that around 3,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians started using the Ring as the acting symbol of love between a man and a woman. Ancient Roman society had three different kinds of marriages, wherein all one side was being owned by another. Egyptians used rings as a symbol of never-ending love, the Roman wedding rings were more like a shackle. 

Throughout the centuries, societies had their own take on wedding rings. In the Middle East, complex puzzle Rings were a popular token of love. Puzzle rings are made of several different bands that when combined correctly form one unified band. Married Europeans during the 15th and 16th hundreds wore something similar called the gimmel ring. During the renaissance, rings were worn with love poems inside.

I'm sure you've noticed most of these historical ring exchanges were from men to women. In the west, the shift happened Around World War II. Men who were sent out to fight chose to wear the Rings to remind them of their wives and families back home. Throughout the rest of the twentieth century, it became more socially acceptable for men to wear jewelry. They really leaned into it in the 1970s which meant more and more men decided to wear wedding rings.

Ring structure and settings

A ring in general consists of three main parts. The more you understand the materials used in the ring, the better you understand the quality of a ring and its price. The elements are the following:

  • The Head
  • The Shoulder
  • The Shank or band
Picture of a ring with shown head, shoulder and shank position

The head is the area where the gemstone is mounted. And there are numerous different head settings when it comes to rings.

picture of a prong settingA prong setting - one of the most classical and popular engagement rings. A prong setting grips the diamond holding it in place, it has a V shape but can come in different shapes as rounded, pointed, or flat. Due to the prong, the diamond is elevated and shines with all its brilliance. This, however, creates a minor problem, it can get caught on things and the diamond can loosen over time. Be sure to check on it regularly. 
picture of bezel settingBezel Setting - This is also quite popular, it holds the diamond in a so-called metal collar, or it’s simply encircled. Bezel looks modern and is a very secure setting because they are made for the stones that they’re holding. This makes it one of the most durable engagement ring types.
picture of tension Setting ringTension Setting - In this, the stone is held in place literally by tension. The tension comes from two sides of the shank, which leaves the impression that the stone is floating. While it gives a unique appearance it has a drawback, it is difficult to resize and it is expensive, in some cases resizing might not even work.
picture of Halo Setting ringHalo Setting - This setting aims to enhance the center stone of the ring, by placing stones around the center store. This makes the center stone stand out more and it even makes it appear larger. A smaller-carat equals save more money. This setting is often paired with a pavé band. 

Ring shank settings

picture of channel setting ringChannel Setting - Rings that have the diamonds in the band are glamorous, which makes this setting popular among wedding rings. This setting can also work without center stone, it can't be caught on something and it is a secure design.
picture of Pavé Setting ringPavé Setting - A bit like channel setting however this design has multiple rows of gems within the ring’s band. The word Pavé translates to “Paved” from French. This style highlights the center stone and gives the ring a brilliant continuous sparkle.

There are ever more to this list, we felt that writing about more popular designs would be better than going in-depth at all designs. Wearing rings is not always about marriage, thus we now will look at different types of rings that one might own.

Types of rings

On average people spend about 5000$ on an engagement ring. But there are other rings that are available, for both men and women. It’s difficult to categorize rings but there are few simple types of rings.

Diamond rings - A classic and elegant look, often worn as an engagement ring. The diamond is the centerpiece of the ring and it can come in different cuts and colors.

Gold rings - Most popular material choice when it comes to jewelry, there are three types of materials: gold, white gold, or rose gold. Gold rings are a popular wedding ring choice.

Class rings - given to a high school or college graduate (In the United States). They represent your school and graduation year, a memorable keepsake.

Wedding rings - They can often vary from couple to couple, they can have different head settings, materials, gemstones. Everyone had different tastes, thus it’s difficult to define them.

Silver rings - Almost the same with gold rings, but different material. A common choice for men or women. 

Ring Location on a finger

Have you ever wondered why we wear wedding rings on the ring finger of our left hands? There are several different answers to this. Some people believe it started again with the Egyptians. The idea that there's a vein running from the fourth finger of your left hand to your heart. The vein of love has been popular for centuries but that idea seems to have come from second-century historians, the tail kind of spread from there in 1549. 

Catholics wear wedding rings on their right hand and Protestants of this era wanted the opposite of whatever Catholics did. Of course, different religions have different traditions, for Jewish the index finger used and Islamic and Hindu weddings may not even use a ring at all.

But today many people in the west regardless of religion, wear their wedding rings on the fourth finger of the left hand. And what kind of rings are people wearing? if you've looked at the hand, pretty much any married woman you know, the answer is diamonds but have you ever wondered why?

the answer is, in the late 19th century a huge diamond deposit was discovered in South Africa and two powerful corporations essentially took control of the diamond industry for decades. But getting people to actually buy the diamonds was a little trickier. That's where an advertising agency came up with the tagline: “diamond is forever”. A diamond engagement ring isn't a centuries-old tradition, but rather a combination 20th Century advertising genius. 

Summary

Do you wonder what size ring fits your finger, see how to choose a correct ring size. Having gone through all that make sure you also know common jewelry materials.

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