Types of Rings and Meanings

Have you ever been curious about the different types of rings and meanings behind them? From promise rings to engagement rings, wedding rings to anniversary rings, signet rings to vintage rings, each ring carries unique symbolism and history.

Since medieval times, rings have often been much more than just a sweet fashion statement. Certain rings have become very famous for much impact they had on history. Some other rings become treasured family heirlooms that get passed down from generation to generation.  However, while it is possible for you to say a thousand words simply by presenting a ring to someone, the ability to decode the sometimes secret messages of rings lies in understanding their symbolism and history.

Let’s look at what these rings mean.

Promise Rings

A promise ring is a symbol of strong commitment. Traditionally, they are given by a man to the woman he loves as a sign of loyalty and fidelity. However, recently, promise rings can be given by either member of a committed couple or between friends.

The tradition of giving promise rings is believed to date back as far as the 16th century. They are a lovely way to say that you hope your relationship with the recipient carries on for very many years.

blue heart promise ring.

Engagement Rings

Engagement rings typically mean that it is now time to start planning a wedding. They signify an interest in lifelong commitment and partnership. 

The circular shape of the ring is believed to symbolize eternity. Love and fidelity without beginning or end. 

Many people ‘pop the question’ while holding a diamond engagement ring. However, the stone itself isn’t the important part. Couples can choose an engagement ring that suits their style and budget. Some people prefer to have a large diamond, while others look for rings with a simple design.

Wedding Rings

These are exchanged by the couple on the day of their wedding. They are a symbol of the eternal love that the couple share and are worn proudly by both spouses to show that they have willingly chosen to commit themselves to their lover. 

Just like the engagement ring, the circular shape of wedding rings is believed to symbolize time without end. For a long time, it was also believed that the vein of love on the left ring finger leads straight to the heart. 

Wedding rings are made out of precious metals. This is to ensure that they do not break or get damaged as they are intended to last more than a lifetime. They also come in different styles and colors, with couples choosing between, yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, platinum, silver, and many other options.

wedding bands on cherry blossom branch.

Anniversary Rings

Couples would often exchange anniversary rings as a way to celebrate the years through which they have been committed to each other. These rings are a celebration of the milestones achieved. They also allow the couple to renew their commitment to each other as a reflection of how far they have come. 

You can choose to give anniversary rings on milestones like the 5th, 10th, 25th, and 50th anniversaries. 

Signet Rings

Signet rings are symbols of authority. Historically, they were used to signify the credibility of a message in the days when people would seal their letters with wax. The impression of the elaborate design on the sender’s signet ring would be pressed onto the wax.

They usually carried the family crest and this was used to identify the sender. Till today, signet rings remain a symbol of power and authority.

signet ring next to wax.

Class Rings

Class rings are typically worn by students who graduate from the same class at High School or University.

This unifying tradition started at West Point Military Academy almost 180 years ago. They serve as a memorial of the time spent together and the experiences gathered at the institution. A Class ring would usually show the name and emblem of the institution attended, although, in recent years, students have sometimes been allowed to customize them a little bit.

Mother’s Rings

Mother’s rings are a celebration of motherhood and show a woman’s relationship with her children or grandchildren. They are customized with the birthstones of her children, although some people now choose to include other family members.

Mother’s rings are a great mother’s day gift and can be made even more meaningful with the addition of engraved messages on the inside or outside of the rings.

Posy Rings

Posy rings, also spelled ‘posie’ get their name from the French word for a poem. This was because, in ancient times, they were used to communicate secret messages between the giver and the receiver. Typically the messages would be of love, but sometimes they also contained religious inscriptions or images.

Posy rings are considered to be special and romantic because they allow the wearer to keep the message close to their skin.

engraved rings.

Cocktail Rings

These flamboyant rings came into fashion during the United States Prohibition era when alcohol consumption was illegal. During this period, cocktails became a popular choice as a way to conceal the consumption of alcohol, and cocktail parties became common.

Dressing up to attend a cocktail party was a fashionable way of socializing and women would often wear a lavish ring as a fashion statement.

These rings were even more significant because they marked a period where women began to enjoy more freedoms in society including the right to vote and the ability to attend social events unaccompanied.

A cocktail ring is usually quite flamboyant and would feature precious gemstones including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and more. 

cocktail ring.

Birthstone Rings

These rings feature a piece of the wearer’s birthstone. Birthstones are believed by many to have positive influences when kept close to a person’s body. And what better way to do so than in a ring? 

It is believed that birthstones can bring you good luck, help you feel more centered and relaxed, and even protect you from danger.

Estate Rings

An Estate ring is a ring that has been owned by someone before. They can for instance be sold as part of a deceased person’s estate. They do not necessarily have to be old or antique.

Claddagh Rings

Claddagh rings are of Irish origin and feature a Celtic design. A Claddagh ring includes three symbolic design elements. There is a crowned heart that is held by two hands. 

The Claddagh ring can be worn by a person of any status, be they single, engaged, or married. However, the hand chosen and the direction the ring is facing will indicate the status of the wearer.

A single person would wear it on their right hand with the heart facing outward while an engaged person will wear it on the right hand with the heart facing inward. To show their marital status, a married person would wear it on the left hand with the heart facing outwards.

claddagh ring on wooden board.

Infinity Rings

The band of an infinity ring features the figure 8 or infinity symbol. It is used by couples to symbolize their everlasting love and unbreakable bond. 

Couples can choose to use an infinity ring for their engagement as a message to all who see it that their commitment is forever. 

Vintage Rings

Vintage rings are a piece of history, they are often up to seventy years or older. They are usually very well crafted and intricate. 

They can also be linked to the historical era in which they were created through their unique design. You can find rings from the Victorian era, Art Nouveau era, Edwardian era, and more. Some individuals collect rings from different times to wear or display.

Final thoughts

Rings have played a significant role in human history and continue to be important symbols of love, commitment, and personal style. Understanding the meanings behind each type of ring can help us appreciate their significance and choose the right ring for ourselves or our loved ones.

Whether it’s a simple promise ring or an intricate vintage ring, each one tells a story and carries a message that can last a lifetime.

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