Rings are more than just beautiful jewelry. The round shape with a hole inside symbolizes eternity, protection, happiness. This accessory has not always been used as decoration and has its roots in ancient times. Antique rings in the past adorned the hands of noble people and served as an identification mark, indicating the status or belonging to the genus of its owner.
From the history of the appearance of the ring
When exactly the rings appeared is not known for certain. In the process of archaeological excavations, scientists find evidence of the existence of rings in the Paleolithic era. They were made from animal bones, stone, horse hair or dry grass. At this time, the rings functioned as a talisman or talisman for hunters.
The first mention of ancient rings comes from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Then the rings could only be worn by noble people. With the help of them, they designated their status and financial situation in society. Slaves and lower classes were forbidden to wear this jewelry.
From Egypt, the art of creating jewelry, including rings, has already gone to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, and from there on. Rings with the image of a scarab beetle or a cat were especially honored. Even then, they were distinguished by special grace and complexity of execution. Numerous ancient bronze rings made of silver, copper and gold were found in the tombs of the pharaohs, they decorated mummies during burial.
In the Roman Empire, gold rings were legally allowed to be worn by senators and other high-ranking officials, while ordinary people were content with the opportunity to decorate themselves with iron jewelry. Later, this law was repealed, and gold was allowed to be worn by all free-born in the empire, freedmen wore silver rings, with iron rings they designated exclusively slaves. Often one could meet an image or gem of an eagle with spread wings - a symbol of the power of Rome.
Rings in medieval Europe
Precious jewelry in Europe in the Middle Ages, just as in the time before our era, was worn only by knowledge, often using them to conclude transactions. They also wore jewelry to demonstrate material wealth, title and position in secular society. In addition to noble persons, jewelry was worn by clergy, magicians and fortune tellers.
For the early Middle Ages, wearing rings with uncut precious stones is characteristic. At that time, there were still no technologies to skillfully process them. That is why in museums and private collections you can see a large number of antique rings with stones without cutting.
The image of Christian symbolism became widespread at this time. On silver, gold and copper rings you can see the faces of the saints and the image of Christ, numerous crosses and scenes from the holy scriptures.
In the late Middle Ages, wearing rings was gaining more popularity and became partly a tribute to fashion. Therefore, jewelers of those times often created beautiful rings encrusted with large and small precious stones.
It is noteworthy that in the Middle Ages in Europe, people believed in magic and witchcraft. This influenced the role of jewelry in society. In addition to the status designation, many of them were used as amulets or as a medicine. So, for example, the rings were treated for barley, epilepsy and other "witching ailments", slander. They were made of donkey hooves, whale veins and other strange material.
Ancient Slavic rings
The word "ring" was formed from the derivative "colo", which in the Old Slavonic language means a wheel, a circle, and a ring comes from the word "finger" - a finger. As in other civilizations, among the Slavs, jewelry worn on the body served as a talisman. This custom appeared long before the baptism of Russia, when polytheism flourished. Often on the rings depicted symbols of gods, animals, clans and various texts.
Today, archaeologists find ancient rings dating from the beginning of the X century. From this period until the 15th century, the rings were blackened silver signets with round, rectangular, hexagonal plates depicting fabulous animals and birds. This is due to the fact that people in Russia believed in the existence of goblin, water, mermaids and other creatures, sought to appease the spirits.
In the XV-XVII centuries, the symbolism on the rings with the widespread dissemination of Christianity changed slightly. Now more and more often there were images on jewelry in the form of a cross. Engraving in the form of warriors, saints, birds and animals appeared on the rings. However, even at this time, most images look somewhat schematic. A few more jewelers at that time achieved high skill.
The main motifs used in the images on the ancient Slavic rings reflect military prowess and signs of power. All because they wore them in order to emphasize their position. Since the reign of Ivan the Terrible, rings have become so fashionable that they adorn almost all fingers. The ring, which was put on the thumb, was called the “napalok." Many ancient rings with stones, with intricate images, symbols of the genus and other drawings do not carry any semantic load, since at one time they were already used as decorative jewelry.
A separate topic in jewelry is engagement rings. For the first time they began to be used at a wedding ceremony as well as other decorations in ancient times. The first evidence of engagement rings comes from Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. The absence of a beginning and an end in a circle symbolizes the eternity of family happiness. However, wedding rings were not always made of gold, as we used to think. In some countries they were made of silver, which meant the purity of intentions of the two lovers.
The ring exchange ceremony in Egypt was performed as a sign of unearthly love and fidelity, as it was believed that the marriage and love between two people was a gift from the gods. Then the Romans adopted this tradition. There, men who wanted to marry had to ask the bride’s hands for their parents, and as a promise to take care of her, to protect and provide, they gave them an iron ring. If the bride reached the age when she could already get married (usually it was the onset of childbearing age), the future husband gave a golden smooth ring for the wedding.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch explains why wedding rings were worn on the ring finger of the left hand. This is due to the fact that the thinnest nerve extends from the ring finger, which connects the left hand to the heart. Putting a ring on a ring finger, the ancient Greeks respected the marriage. Exactly the same tradition was in the Roman Empire.
Modern bridal fashion allows for classic rings with a smooth surface, paying tribute to tradition. But engraving on rings, decoration, the combination of several metals and new alloys are gaining more and more popularity.
Metals and stones
Jewelry was widespread throughout a civilized society. The era was replaced by an era, certain styles receded into the past, and others appeared in their place. The materials from which the jewelry was made were dictated by fashion and craftsmanship.
Jewelers used a noble metal - gold to create old rings. These rings could afford affluent persons from the upper classes or wealthy merchants. In addition to gold, silver, bronze, tin, copper, and brass were used.
Rings with stones of black, red, green, blue and other colors have always been in fashion. Transparent gemstones such as amethyst, ruby, emerald, diamond, alexandrite, citrine and others have been and are especially popular as inlays in any historical period and in the present. In regions rich in pearls, jewelry was often the last to be adorned. True, the life of a pearl outside its native environment lasts about 150 years due to the influence of external negative factors to which it is exposed during socks. That is why in antique shops and in private collections old jewelry with pearls can be found no older than the 17th century. Rings inlaid with colored glass in combination with precious stones have become widespread in past centuries.
The use of enamel in jewelry has been known to mankind since the time of Ancient Egypt and Byzantium, which came to Europe only in the XII century. But in the Middle Ages, this craft was forgotten and was not used until the 19th century due to sophisticated technology. Enamel has given a new life to the appearance of the Art Nouveau style in both architecture and jewelry.
As already mentioned, in the past, not everyone was allowed to wear rings on their fingers. Particular attention was paid to symbolism. Each nation had its own beliefs and outlook on life. This influenced the formation of symbolism in various civilizations. However, each nation has a thin thread, uniting the idea of the existence of people around the world. This can be discovered by observing how jewelry art developed at different times and in different territories.
So, the swastika is found in images of the most ancient peoples around the world. Before the Nazis began to use it to refer to the Third Reich, it was a symbol of the rotating Sun, goodness and prosperity.
In the past, people used images of animals in order to identify themselves with traits, or, conversely, endow themselves with the character inherent in this beast. The most popular were drawings of birds as a symbol of peace. Many peoples, according to legend, it was the birds who participated in the creation of the world. The horse occupied a place of honor in symbolism and meant power and power, the wolf symbolized strong-willed traits and spoke about the freedom of the owner.
Legends of the Rings
Many legends and secrets are shrouded in rings. These stories were both invented and actually happened. Of the invented stories, probably the most famous is the story of the ring of omnipotence, written by J.R. Tolkien.
In the Scandinavian saga "Treasures of the Nibelungs", the protagonist Siegfried takes possession of a ring that turns everything around into gold.
An equally famous ring is Solomon, which bestows health and well-being on everyone who wears it. According to biblical legend, Tsar Solomon was given this ring by a sage, saying that when the ruler is angry, he just needs to look at the jewelry. An inscription in the Hebrew language was carved on the outside of the ring: "Everything will pass." And this inscription sobered Solomon for a long time, when he succumbed to anger and passions. But once he was so angry that he wanted to throw the ring and, removing it from his finger before the throw, he noticed another inscription on the inside of "And this will pass."
Often in legends and tales, the ring acts as a symbol of power and power. It gives its owner some supernatural powers.
To purchase antique products, it is better to contact a store selling antiques. The employees of such stores often, besides being engaged in trade, are well versed in the styles inherent in certain eras, and will be able to help make a choice, give good advice. Do not neglect the reviews about the store, and it is better to collect as much information as possible about the company selling antique products.
How to determine the age of the ring?
You can independently determine the age of the handmade ring and distinguish it from a fake. True, you need to understand that only the examination can determine the most accurate date by conducting an analysis. It is possible to carry out such an examination at home, but it will be more superficial than that carried out in laboratory conditions. Knowledge of the properties of various metals will be an undeniable advantage in this matter.
Gold and silver are not magnetized, and there are no scratches on precious stones if they are held with a strong push on the glass. This is one of the first possible verification options. In addition, the master usually stamped or engraved on the jewelry.
The presence of patina on the metal is also one of the signs that the ring is old. However, do not flatter yourself, because aging a metal in a short time is not difficult, especially since such a procedure can be performed even at home. It is worth paying attention to damage to the metal, because after lying in the ground for more than a century, the metal is deformed. In any case, it is quite difficult to distinguish the original from the fake.
How much are antique rings?
It all depends on the metal, the presence of precious stones and the craftsmanship of the jewelry. So, a golden antique ring with a stone will cost fabulous money. And an ordinary bronze ring with symbols dating from the 10th century can cost up to two thousand rubles.