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The Middle Eastern Puzzle Ring

Middle Eastern puzzle rings have been a part of my life since childhood. My father purchased two of them in Pakistan in the early 1960s when he was in the merchant marines. They bore the rough texture of sand casting in several places and they were very thin in the back.

Mom's puzzle rings
Puzzle Rings purchased by my dad in Pakistan in the early 1960s.

So thin in fact that I had to repair them for my mother several times over the years even though she rarely wore them. This was a design flaw in my opinion, but perhaps they were produced for tourists like my dad. After all, he only paid one American dime for each of them. He immediately threw away the instructions and entertained himself on the ship by trying to figure out the puzzle.

My mother called them “trick rings” and kept them hidden away for the most part. (With five children, I would do the same.)  In my early jewelry career, I wanted to recreate them and asked to borrow them. They had such sentimental value to her that she wouldn’t let them leave the house. So I spent some time drawing each individual ring as well as how they were assembled. It was necessary to study the “puzzle” of how they fit together – taking apart and reassembling them many times. Then I went home to my shop and spent about 12 hours creating my first puzzle ring. Continue reading The Middle Eastern Puzzle Ring

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Size Matters

As a bench jeweler, I can’t tell you how many times I was asked to make a ring as a gift when the customer did not have any idea of the ring size.

“She’s about 5′ 2″ and a little bit chubby. I know she wears a size 10 dress. What ring size do you think?”

I had to break it to him that, in my experience, the size of her fingers has no relation whatsoever to her height, weight or dress size. And which of her 8 fingers and two thumbs are we guessing at?

We would need to figure out her ring size another way. In the interest of secrecy, that can be a tall order without giving away a surprise. This is why jewelers will often offer one free ring sizing with the purchase of a brand new ring within a certain time period from the purchase date.

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My heart on your finger

Humans have expressed themselves through personal ornament for as long as we have existed. The way we dress, wear our hair and mark our bodies are all ways for us to communicate, in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

Jewelry may be the oldest form of  art and personal ornament with the very earliest artifacts going back to the dawn of humanity. Ancient jewelry of beads and bone held meaning that we can only guess. But the tradition of assigning meaning to the jewelry we wear has continued.

Color Inlay Ring

Custom word ring 14K

The poesy ring was popular in Medieval times and was engraved with words or phrases that held meaning to the wearers as a token of love and esteem. I became interested in the idea of words and rings about the same time I became interested in jewelry making as a career.

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Sophia & the Hose Clamp

During the late 1990s I lived on a sailboat docked on Toms River in Pine Beach, NJ.  It was a beautiful place to live, but I was feeling a little isolated from friends and family. I was able to connect online with a group of women that eventually formed the core of an intentional family for me. We met in diners, each other’s homes and sometimes on the beach to celebrate the seasons. It was a magical time that lasted almost three years. As time passed we scattered, but all of these women still hold a special place in my heart.

Sophia probably wandered the most, moving to the UK for several years and then returning to the US to settle in Maryland. Sometime last Fall she returned to her native Ohio to be with family and start anew. I was delighted to hear from her in November.

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