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.