A ring is any round band, generally of precious metal, worn instead of other types of jewellery as ornamental jewelry. The word “ring” alone by itself denotes jewellery worn in the hand; while worn as an ornament on other body parts, the whole body part is defined within the term, e.g. earrings, rings, toe rings, wrist rings and neck rings. The term has various other derivatives such as finger rings (also known as studs) and nose rings.
Historically rings have been worn for many years as an indication of social status. Certain groups of people, such as high school students, were often required to wear a ring on their left hand as a sign of their status. Even the middle classes were expected to wear some sort of social marker, perhaps to signify their place in society or to make a fashion statement. For some groups the rings may not have been worn at all but may only have been placed on the right hand’s inside ring finger.
A ring worn as a sign of social status was originally designed with two metals: gold and silver. Initially gold rings were the norm but silver rings gained in popularity as more people became involved in the gold market. These silver rings were usually thicker and could be more decorative than the gold rings, which were thinner and had less designs. It was not long before the reverse was also developed. The silver ring was used as a substitute for the gold ring and as a way to increase the value of the social ranking.
As time passed, other metals were introduced into the market, including nickel and tin, which made the practice of using gold as a sign of wealth more widespread. The use of nickel soon declined as improvements were made in the production of steel alloy tools. However, in the early twentieth century the incorporation of copper into rings began to gain popularity. The use of nickel became more limited after it was discovered that copper wears down faster than gold, causing rings to deteriorate much more quickly.
By the twentieth century, when women began to enter the workplace and work for longer periods of time in dress, jewelry, and makeup, they began to feel a need for more options when it came to their rings. Traditional gold rings began to be replaced by platinum or silver bands. Men began to wear more intricate rings with settings that were more masculine and rounded. Diamonds became increasingly popular as a sign of wealth. The birth of the designer rings opened new markets for consumers who previously would have been content to just buy traditional gold rings and wear them with simple jeans and T-shirts.
Modern jewelry design has continued the trend of making intricate wedding rings more accessible to the general public. Rings can now be as decorative as any other piece of jewelry in a woman’s wardrobe and even more so because of the wide variety of designs that are now available. Women no longer have to feel like they are limited to wearing only gold or platinum wedding rings in order to look good. With the invention of thumb rings, women have even more choice when it comes to fashion jewelry and their rings.