A traditional puzzle ring is a type of ring made up of four, six, eight, or twelve interconnected rings. Contemporary designs include rings of three, five, seven or even more bands. A type of puzzle ring, called a Chain Ring
, assembles differently than tradition puzzle rings. It’s called a chain ring because each band is connected consecutively with the next. When you take it apart it looks like a chain. Today, the puzzle ring concept is used in Wedding Rings
, Mother’s rings
, Claddagh rings
, and even in Biker Rings
History or Myth?
The history of puzzle rings is not completely clear and is shrouded in myth and legend, which makes the puzzle ring all the more interesting and appealing. There are theories that the Egyptians were the first to create the puzzle ring, while others believe that the rings were created in China two thousand years ago. Another popular belief is that the puzzle rings originated in Arabia, and were used as wedding bands by the Sheiks.
Some believe that puzzle rings originated from the 16th century European Gimmel ring, which is a ring with two or three hoops or links that fit together to form one complete ring. Gimmel Rings (or Gimmal Rings) were often used as betrothal rings. Couples would each wear one hoop during the engagement period and then rejoin the two bands together to use as a wedding ring. The word ‘gimmal’ comes from Latin gemellus, meaning twin.
Probably the most well-known legend about puzzle rings—and it’s unknown whether it’s true or not—centers around the idea that puzzle rings were originally designed to ensure fidelity in wives. A husband would give his wife a puzzle ring as a wedding ring and not tell her the solution to the ring. It was believed that if the woman decided to be unfaithful and removed the ring, it would fall apart and she would be unable to put it back together in time to avoid discovery. The husband, upon seeing the disassembled ring, would know that his wife was cheating on him. A fun story, perhaps even true!
The puzzle ring has recently seen a huge resurgence in popularity. People in their 50s, 60s and 70s may remember having a puzzle ring when they were children. Those rings were basically cheaply-made toys, fun to play with, but not serious pieces of jewelry. Today, puzzle rings often consist of elegant designs, crafted from the finest gold, silver or even platinum. Many are adorned with diamonds or other precious gemstones. They make wonderful heirlooms, passed along from generation to generation.
What is a Puzzle Ring from another perspective:
Puzzle rings are made with multiple bands of sterling silver or solid yellow, rose or white gold that interlock to form a design. Puzzle Ring bands are usually linked through each other and sit together in the formation when worn. As each band is individually made, a custom-made puzzle ring can be made in two or three tones of gold to highlight the pattern and intricacy.
Some people have their puzzle ring bands soldered together if the puzzle becomes too puzzling, while others may choose a 'one piece' puzzle or knot ring that looks like a puzzle from the front but is actually a single band. Other rings such as the Honeycomb Ring may fit together but a traditional puzzle ring interlocks.
Puzzle Ring Meanings
Many stories and meanings can be told by these intriguing rings. Here is another one; Puzzle rings are the perfect metaphor for the interconnection of life. One way or another we all fit together - sometimes it can take a little work, sometimes it just slots right into place!
The bands can also be used to represent life's stories: a band for the Past, a band for the Present and a band for the Future. Three band puzzle rings are also used to embody the integral elements of marriage or a union: Body, Mind and Spirit.
Two band puzzle rings may signify the joining of two lives, or the connection between two hearts and two minds.
Turkish Puzzle Rings
Sometimes puzzle rings are called "Turkish Wedding" or "Harem" rings with the story that the ring couldn't be removed without the band falling apart and an unfaithful spouse wouldn't be able to put the puzzle back together again before the naked finger was noticed!
However. As puzzle rings can easily be taken off without the bands falling apart, this story is most likely just that. A story!