History Of Rings

Circles of Love- The Ring History

Chilton's Antique history of rings, circlets of love

Circles of love are rings of antiquity that were worn to symbolize and express true love and an intention of a UN breaking unity (thus the reason for the circle). Christian religions originally condemned the use of rings; they were thought to be pagan accessories. Only after several centuries did the church ultimately adopt this trend and made it apart of the symbol of the sanctity of marriage. The circular shape served as a reminder ….

Rings have been in existence since early Egyptian times. Rings have been made from all types of materials from Gold and Platinum to straw and wire. Rings have been used to express friendship, love and sorrow.

The promise of marriage - The Engagement Ring

Is an age-old tradition, men originally presented an engagement ring as a token of his wealth and love for his future partner in life. Legend tells us that tragically a diamond was used, as the sparkle would ward off evil sprits. Legend also tells us that the gemstone was created by a magician's spell. These rings were used in ancient roman societies as a legally binding commercial transaction between two parties, a pledge to confirm an arrangement. It was meant to show that the girl had been acquired and was no longer available.

In the 1900's this practice became a permanent custom of our culture. The best thing about antique & vintage rings is that not only are they all hand made but they are unique, wont see another person wearing the same ring. This is a common problem with mass production of rings. These vintage and antique styles also never date, they will always remain in style unlike modern style that soon date.

Signet/seal ring for status

Were originally used in early times to authenticate documents, the wearer would place a blob of wax on a document or to seal an envelope then impress the crest into the hot wax.

Engraved into the ring would be an intaglio (meaning carved into rather then raised) either initials or a family crest. They were engraved into either ornamental stones like onyx or carnelian or were just plain gold. Now they are given as interesting gifts and insights into old traditions. The signet rings of the Edwardian and 1920-30's eras were plain bands with initials hand engraved into the main section. We stock a wide variety of these rings and can still have the hand script engraving done.

Wedding Ring – symbolize unity and undying love

The wedding ring is the biggest most imported symbol of all the rings you can own. It symbolizes a unity between a man and women for life. By placing the rings on each other's fingers it confirms their commitment to one other. Today everything from a plain metal band to one set with diamonds is used, but traditionally it was a solid half rounded ring. Wedding rings are traditionally plain and styled for comfort. The ancient Egyptians were among the first to use the ring as a symbol of marriage. It served as a constant reminder to the permanency of marriage and also as a magical means to ensure it. We stock some wonderful old beautifully hallmarked antique wedding bands in many widths and styles. What a truly wonderful thing to wear a ring, that has not only stood the test of time, but an original, to symbolise the meaning of love.

Memorial rings

Chilton's Antiques memorial rings

With memorial rings a majority of people get these somewhat confused with the later fashion seen in the 1920's of the onyx and diamond cocktail dress rings. These rings have two very separate identities.

The original memorial rings have been around since 1600's these are very rare. The ring was to symbolize love in death as in life. The rings are usually black and have a lock of hair in the centre. The rings reached their height of popularity again in the Victorian era after Queen Victoria's husband Albert died in the 1861. The Victorians were adept at dealing with death, as it was an every day occurrence in life. So memorial brooches, earrings, pendants and rings were often commissioned by a family after the death of a loved one, where money was left in a will for these tokens to be made, then handed out to close friends, family and business associates. White enamel with black was not as widely used as it was introduced to represent children and unmarried adults. Memorial Jewellery represents a truly beautiful statement about someone's life and the survival of their memory. It was a way to leave their legacy or mark on the world… Rather a romantic notion.

Art Deco diamond cocktail rings - Worn for fashion and to denote wealth

The opulence of the roaring 20's meant that not only was the fashion about style and class, but all about show. The idea of the cocktail ring was that is was worn as a single outstanding ring all by itself usually on the middle finger. The ring was an opulent outstanding piece that should show itself off to maximum advantage. The rings were also fairly large in size thus the reason to be worn by it self. These rings were usually kept as a dress ring and worn for special occasions when going out.

Gypsy set ring – worn as a friendship band:

These rings have a plain or slightly engraved band that is set with all manner of stones.The material used was usually an indication of wealth. The rings could be either: 9ct, 15ct or 18ct. They were made of a variety of colours rose gold and yellow. The stones used were rubies, sapphire, garnets, amethyst, diamonds and emeralds. The rings became popular in late Victorian times when they were given a friendship band as gifts to either young girls or by lovers and husbands. These rings are very simple and easily to wear and fit well into our everyday lives. We stock a huge variety of these in all prices.

Mizpah rings

Chilton's Antiques mizpah ring

The origin of the word is Hebrew and means "may the lord watch between me and thee although we are apart". See the Bible (Genesis 31:49)

Rings with the word Mizpah inscribed on them were given as gifts usually from a person that was about to go away for along period of time. The idea of the gift was to ensure that even while the person was away the donor's thoughts would still be continually with that person. Remembering these were the days before airmail, telephones and emails, contact was fairly limited. This type of token was often exchanged between Lovers in Victorian times and until after the First World War meaning that no matter how far or for how long they would be apart from each other that there thought and prayers would remain with that person. As well as Rings, Mizpah token love items,  came in brooches and were just as popular.

Eternity ring

Traditionally the symbol of eternity was a snake – thus snake or serpent rings in Victorian times were often used as eternity rings.

The original tradition of the eternity ring came about as a tradition that was supposed to take place on the first wedding anniversary.

The ring is placed on the same finger as the wedding band and engagement ring as a third ring symbolizing the eternal and continual love of the couple.

The rings are usually consisting of a few diamonds set a line or even a full hoop.