Southwest-Style Rings

Doug Williams, Publicity Coordinator

Many Sun Lakes residents are wearing the traditional Arizona turquoise rings, which never seem to go out of style. These rings are popular with both men and women, but the ladies seem to fancy more than one on each hand, with brightly colored gems. Most men go for a larger sized rectangular ring and limit it to one on the right hand, with their left ring finger saved for their wedding band.

Why do we put rings on the ring finger? In ancient times, the Romans believed the vein in the fourth finger on the left hand ran directly to the heart. They nicknamed it vena amoris, “vein of love.” And so, to demonstrate a couple’s love, they placed the wedding ring on that finger.

Roman wedding rings often displayed the image of two clasped right hands in a symbolic representation of fidelity and marriage. A common feature in betrothal rings was the knot of Hercules. The design consisted of two ropes intertwined into one and likely served as the inspiration behind the expression “tying the knot.”

Rings have long been a symbol of union and commitment and can be traced back to prehistory when cavemen created chords of braided grass to tie around the waist, ankles, and wrists of their chosen mates.

Ancient Egyptians wore rings carved from various gems, including turquoise, amethyst, and lapis lazuli. Some cultures wore rings on their toes or through piercings in the nose and ears. Scarab rings with carved beetles were popular among the ancient Greeks, as were signet rings which featured intricate designs.

Another ring that appeared during the Middle Ages was the Jewish marriage ring. These rings were representative of the Temple of Jerusalem or the nuptial home, often featuring miniature houses of richly enameled gold. Couples in England, France, and the U.S. wear their wedding rings on their left hand, but couples in India, Germany, and Russia prefer the right hand.

Also created during the Middle Ages was the hinged ring. This invention contained compartments for holding perfume or sometimes poison! Colored stones remained popular among those who could afford them. The most coveted gems were emerald, sapphire, and ruby. Bloodstone was also considered an appropriate gemstone for these types of rings. In Medieval times, rings were often sported on each finger and on multiple joints.

So, if you’ve read this far, you’re invited! Why not check out the general meeting of the Sun Lakes Rock, Gem, Silver & Creative Crafts Club. Our meetings are held at 10 a.m. in the Lecture Hall of the Cottonwood Computer Learning Center each month from October through April. As one of the larger clubs in Sun Lakes, we love to welcome new members. Just go online to and read all about it. And then take a Silver One class and we’ll show you how to make rings in the classic Southwest style of turquoise and sterling silver.