The Puzzle Ring

29 November, 2017

The Puzzle Ring

Arlette Gold’s Puzzle Ring has been one of the best sellers at our Brixton pop-up shop. Oregon-based High Society Collection’s striking silver and brass ring is a fascinating design consisting of four interconnected bands, each of which can be worn individually or together in configuration – the rings all fit inside the circle in only one way. A contemporary take on the traditional puzzle ring; great to play and fiddle with. 

Puzzle rings are intriguing, their history shrouded in myth, legend and theory. Very little is known about where and when they originated, or why they are named as they are; their past is as complex as their designs. 

Some say that the puzzle ring first appeared in Asia over 2000 years ago and early trade routes bought it to the Middle East. Some believe it originated in Arabia; yet others think Turkey. The most common belief is that they were used as wedding bands, designed to ensure fidelity in wives.

One infamous story states that a Turkish nobleman or king commissioned the first puzzle ring as a wedding ring for his wife. Obsessed by her beauty, he didn’t trust her to be faithful, so he had the royal jeweller create a “trick” ring. If his wife was unfaithful she would remove the ring, the interlocking bands would fall apart, and she would be unable to put it back together. He would know by the disassembled ring that she had cheated on him. However, since a puzzle ring can be easily removed without the bands falling apart, this story has its flaws.

Historians presume that the ring originated in Turkey but that it, and indeed its name, was a marketing ploy to encourage military men and women stationed at the numerous US military bases in Turkey, to buy and take home jewellery to their loved ones.  A puzzle ring is sometimes called a “Turkish Wedding Ring” but - contrary to popular belief - Turkish people do not use these rings as wedding bands. 

Another theory is that the ring was given as a gift by the father of the bride to the groom on his wedding day. This was supposed to calm the groom's excitement and nerves, by keeping him busy as he tried to solve the puzzle. 

The ring design may have derived from the 16th century European Gimmel Rings; also known as Twin rings (the word “Gimmel” is derived from the Latin “Gemmellus” the diminutive of Geminus or Twin.), Fede rings (from the Italian phrase “Mani in Fede” which means “Hands of Faith”) and Betrothal rings. These consisted of two or three small rings that were intertwined with two right hands that clasped together with the bottom hand holding a heart. The separated bands would be reunited during the wedding ceremony and the wife would then wear the combined ring.

The Claddagh ring is the Irish version of the above – a single ring with two hands holding a heart, topped with a crown. Ireland’s traditional symbol for love, betrothal and marriage.

Whatever theory you choose to believe, the puzzle ring symbolises the union of two people; the correct configuration of bands depicting a solid and strong relationship. The custom of wearing rings goes as far back as the ancient Romans; and the puzzle makes an out-of-the-ordinary engagement or wedding band choice.

Arlette Gold are captivated by the puzzle ring and wear it just because! It’s unusual design, its playful nature and toy-like charm; it catches people’s attention and imaginations; and looks stylish and interesting. What more could you ask for?