Around a ring…
The ring is an object that has its origins in a very remote past. As a metal band worn on a finger of the hand it is found in ancient times. Its circular shape, symbol of eternity, but also of connection with material and earthly life, has given this ornament a multiplicity of meanings, connected to ancestral rites, to the representation of the divine, to the totality of the world in its fullness and harmony. Its name derives from the Latin anĕllus, dim. of anus “circle”.
A sign of power, strength, domination, prestige, opulence, the ring was worn by kings and priests to indicate the role of power they exercised.
Heroes, warriors, knights, kings and conquerors were the first in society to wear jewels, often snatched from the conquered or forged by blacksmiths to honor their victories.
In every culture and tradition there are numerous legends that revolve around a ring…
The ring between history and myth.
One of the oldest mentions of this form of jewel is found in the Old Testament, in the book of Genesis (41, 41-42) in which the pharaoh took the ring from his hand and handed it over that of Joseph, sanctioning the official transfer of power.
Other biblical references on the subject can be found in the legend according to which King Solomon possessed a ring that gave him the ability to communicate with animals and to understand them (legend taken up by ethologist Konrad Lorenz, who mentions it in the title of his famous book L Solomon’s ring, in which he deals with animal language and behavior).
The origins of the ring as an ornament go back to prehistoric times, precisely in the Bronze Age, when it was just a simple circle that adorned the fingers of the hand. Already in the Cretan-Mycenaean civilization the workmanship becomes more accurate and the rings are considered real precious objects.
Evidence comes from ancient Egypt of pharaohs who forged seal rings, on which symbols and images were engraved.
In the Greek world, the seal ring was widespread among people holding official offices. It bore the unique and distinctive sign of its owner, who used it to affix his signature.
In ancient Rome, however, the ring takes on the meaning of wealth and nobility. If worn on the left ring finger, the ring becomes a symbol of fidelity, a bond of union for the spouses. In fact, it was believed that the vein of love passed through the left ring finger, which reached the heart directly from the finger. Hence the romantic value of this jewel, as a sign of the love bond.
In the Middle Ages, the tradition of the piscatory ring began, from the Latin: anulus piscatoris, it is one of the Pope’s insignia, which he receives during the solemn mass at the beginning of his pontificate and which he wears on the ring finger of his right hand. Made of gold and enriched with precious stones, it was already worn by bishops and popes ‘fishers of souls’ in the past. The Renaissance tradition sees a wide spread of the ring as a symbol of social status and influence. In this period the custom of kings arose to give the nobles a ring as a sign of fidelity between the monarch or the lord and his subjects.
The ring as an object and symbol.
The ring is an ornament that collects various meanings. It is a sign of power and a pledge of love, a seal and a talisman. It is a precious object, a sign of wealth and status: its value, in addition to the material, consists in the technical expertise, in the design and in the style with which it is made, distinctive traits of the craftsman who forged it and who, through a particular processing , has left its own mark of originality.
It contains within itself the symbolic essence of the circle, a geometric shape to which nothing can be removed or added, without disturbing its symmetrical harmony. It represents the perfect, immutable movement, without beginning, nor end, nor variation and as such it symbolizes the Sun, archetype of life, energy, perfection. The closed line without beginning or end, concentrates in itself the sense of completeness and eternal return, as in the figure of the Ouroboros, the snake that bites its tail present in many ancient cultures, and it signifies the universal energy that is the cyclical nature of things consumes and renews itself continuously.
The symbolic value of the ring as a binding element, as the assumption of a social role and marriage bond goes even further, to the point of representing enslavement. The origin of the finger ring, according to the Roman historian Pliny, has its roots in the Greek myth of Prometheus. Chained to a rock by Zeus, as a punishment for the theft of divine fire, the hero was released before the penalty was entirely granted, but he was forced to wear a chain ring on his finger in which a fragment of the rock was set. . It was a symbol of his punishment and submission to Zeus.
Ring and magic.
Since the dawn of time, the ring has been considered a magical object. Metallurgy and alchemy merged, giving this jewel the prerogative of subjugating the forces of the unknown, giving it magical qualities or divine emanation.
“A Ring to rule them, a Ring to find them, a Ring to bring them all and in the dark bind them” (J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings)
Especially if equipped with precious stones or engraved symbols, the ring has acquired the value of an amulet over time. Therapeutic virtues, powers of protection against disease or curses were assigned to it. The empty circle represents on the one hand infinity, continuity, perfection, eternity and on the other nothingness, the transition from one state of matter to another, the crossing of a threshold, a change of state.
Ancient legends, taken from northern European mythologies, tell of rings that made those who wore them invisible, as we read in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
The author takes inspiration from myths of the Scandinavian and Finnish tradition and from the folk tales of north-western Europe. The plot unfolds is centered around a magical object with great powers, a ring in fact, which gives a lot of luck to the one who owns it, but without revealing its exact nature. It is contested between the forces of good and evil, and disappears from the world once it is destroyed, at the end of history.
A ring with powers very similar to those of the Tolkien trilogy ring is present in Plato’s Republic, precisely in the myth of the Ring of Gyges. The story tells of a shepherd, Gyges, who finds a magic ring that has the power to make invisible; out of sight of others, despite having always been an honest man, Gyges killed the king of the city to marry his wife. That of the ring endowed with particular powers, however, is a topos widely present throughout Western culture, present in many medieval novels that stage a magical ring, such as that of Angelica in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso.
The ring between art and technology.
Today the ring retains all the meanings related to its history and its genesis. Still used as a wedding ring, it witnesses the bond between two people who make a promise, it is on a woman’s hand as a precious and elegant accessory, on that of a man it expresses his social prestige, his role or belonging to a certain group.
Jewelery has given way to many materials and forms of jewelery, often resulting in sculpture.
The jewel becomes a real work of art, a test of technical and aesthetic mastery, it becomes an object of considerable value as it is unique and unrepeatable. This is thanks to the artisan construction process and the extraordinary technical solutions acquired from the goldsmith tradition of the past.
Handmade by the masters of the goldsmith’s art and customizable in the materials, models and precious stones used, the rings are an object of desire, to adorn the hands of a woman, to highlight her beauty. Through the use of precious metals, such as gold, platinum and palladium, stones of great value, such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, the ring becomes a luxury item.
In the contemporary landscape, jewelry design provides many creative ideas and through the use of rapid prototyping technologies, supporting goldsmithing and allowing you to move from design to a 3D printer. By making use of synthetic materials it is possible to make a jewel quickly and effectively, overcoming some long and often complicated manual processing steps. The results can be astounding and the variations varied.
A ring is many things, but above all it is the desire to be unique.