Fashionable Bishop Rings and Their Origin

When you hear about bishop rings, what kind of images do occur in your head? Maybe Catholic clergymen in long, heavily decorated gowns? You’re not far off. Bishops were the first to wear bishop rings but today, this name is applied to jewelry intended for everyone. It just draws inspiration from traditional jewelry for clergy.

Original bishop rings are made individually for every bishop. More often than not, they opt for gold pieces. Such rings tend to feature the initials of a bishop and some kind of imagery such as Christian symbols. Bishop rings belong to the church, they are given to a clergyman at the inauguration ceremony and withdrawn after his death. At the same time, bishops are allowed to have personal rings that are wholly owned by them.

The key feature of bishop rings is an amethyst inlay. As a spiritual stone, it signifies purity, wisdom, selflessness, comprehension of the true nature of things, and love of the divine. Back in the day, the purple gem carried engravings. It is a painstaking and demanding skill, which, unfortunately, is virtually lost in the present. That’s why modern bishop rings are engraving-less for the most part.

And now, let’s take what we already know about bishop rings and see what modern rings have in common or vice versa, how they deviate.

Not Only Gold

All bishop rings are pretty large and heavy. Made of gold, they cost a pretty penny, and this aspect makes them a kind of niche product. To help them become more affordable, fashion designers utilize not-so-luxurious materials – sterling silver, stainless steel, and brass. It is not uncommon to encounter gold-plated silver bishop rings that convey the essence of opulent originals but are much cheaper at the price.

Amethysts and More

Such a beautiful gemstone as amethyst could not fall out of favor with jewelers. Modern bishop rings still feature the purple spiritual stone. But because it doesn’t carry the same significance in the fashion world, designers don’t feel obligated to stick to it. Rubies, sapphires, topazes, a bunch of other semi-precious jewels, and even diamond imitations – all of these options can be seen in the models of the present day.

While original rings have only one, but a pretty massive, gemstone, modern counterparts are less traditional. They may show off halo styles (large stone accentuated by a circle of smaller ones), three stone variations, cascaded designs, you name it. You can even see some patterns (crosses or stars) made up of small sparklers.

Needless to say, these inlays don’t feature engravings – this would be a very expensive touch.

A Variety of Symbols and Patterns

Most of the symbols you will notice on designer bishop rings carry no particular significance. It seems like designers have pulled them from everywhere: historic styles, world religions, and their own imagination. When choosing such patterns, their visual appeal is the most important thing. The meaning and significance are secondary.

For Men and Women

Catholic bishops are all males. Subsequently, their rings feature men’s designs. But fashion is not only for guys. Ladies also enjoy these larger-than-life, gem-clad styles. To cater to the fair sex, designers give the rings more elegance and glamour.

Size Matters

Bishop rings are made massive. Their original function is document sealing. For an imprint to be clearly visible and readable, it has to be large. Today, sealing isn’t important anymore but signet designs remain. They imply a rather flat bezel (although if there is a gem inlay this rule is broken), a round or oval shape, and a design that rises above the shank.

Pocket-Friendly or Not?

It would seem like a bulky ring made of precious metal and featuring a precious stone would cost an arm and a leg. Indeed, if we are talking about custom-made pieces, they cost a fortune. Luckily, as we have already noted, jewelers opt for more accessible materials to make bishop rings affordable. On average, a gold-plated silver ring displaying a genuine gemstone is going to cost in the $100-200 range. This doesn’t apply to designer jewelry or products by renowned fashion houses though. Bishop rings under their labels feature four-digit price tags.

Wrap Up

Bishop rings have a long history and significance explaining their appearance and visual elements they benefit from. Modern bishop rings utilize a handful of well-familiar approaches (such as signet designs or amethysts inlays) as well as bring some new details to the table. Unlike traditional bishop jewelry that is intended exclusively for men, bishop-inspired rings of the present day are also available for ladies. Given their allure and opulence, they are pretty affordable, although you’ll have to shell out for a designer item. Considering all of this, there are no reasons to ignore this amazing jewelry style.