Talking about wholesale rings and how they may be purchased as close-outs and discount deals is no one's idea of poetry. Nevertheless, at any price level, it's a fascinating fact that perhaps the single item of adornment bearing the most powerful load of emotional and spiritual symbolism is, at base, nothing more than a circular band. Lovers don't exchange wedding necklaces; there's no member of the Beatles name Earringo Starr; and no highly accomplished Oxford philologist would devote ten years of his life to crafting the timeless fantasy epic, "The Lord of the Tie-Clasps." There's something about rings.
Rings go back pretty much as far back as human history. Wedding rings are written into both the traditional Christian and Jewish wedding ceremonies, though rings are now exchanged at weddings of every belief system known to man. The wearing of the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is a little more recent: Renaissance England, where the ring finger was believed to contain a vein going directly to the heart. As for placing the ring on the left hand, that's because most people are right-handed and the ring may be less likely to be involved in an accident by a righty. This is, of course, very unfair to our left-handed brothers and sisters like me, but there you go.
Of course, rings commemorating romantic love are the tip of the iceberg, there are rings for friendship, rings that celebrate chastity and the complete opposite of chastity, rings that register your mood, and such non-fantasy rings of great power as the signet ring worn by the Pope, easily the world's most powerful single clergyman. And, yes, there are the rings of popular culture and the movies. There is the addictive, all-consuming ring of power which turns a fairly harmless creature into the monstrous but pitiable Gollum of "The Lord of the Rings" books and movies. Then there are the rings favored by such celebrities of various time periods as Ringo Starr, Sammy Davis Jr., Sharon Stone and, yes, Paris Hilton and the hugely expensive engagement and wedding rings exchanged by couples ranging from "Brangelina" (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) to "Liz and Dick" (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton). Rings have been used to dispense poison in numerous period melodramas and spoofs thereof, and the purity rings worn by teen faves the Jonas Brothers have been poked fun of in numerous venues, including "South Park."
What is it about rings that makes them so powerful, so much the stuff of legend going back to the ancient Norse tale and slightly less ancient Wagnerian opera cycle, The Ring of the Nibelungs? Perhaps it's the sheer simplicity of a circle, so expressive of the concept of eternity. And, with simplicity comes versatility, because rings can be as serious as the deepest of human commitments or they can express affection for kids' favorite animals or nostalgia for such bygone eras as the "hippie days" of the 1960s. Rings of course, may be made of the finest and most expensive materials such as silver, gold, or platinum or of the cheapest plastics. They can be bought at the most ornate retailers in the world like Tiffany's or Neiman-Marcus and obtained out of a box of Cracker Jack.
Ironically, there is perhaps less difference between expensive, inexpensive, and downright cheap rings than you might think in terms of how they are distributed. Even the most valuable rings in the world are, at some point in the process, wholesale rings. There are discounts available on even the finest rings and closeouts too, sometimes. Fortunately, whether a ring is a simple band built on an attractive decorative theme, holds a rhinestone, cubic zirconia, a relatively inexpensive precious mineral, or the finest jewel on the planet, the symbolism of this uniquely simple object representing power, love, and the eternal continuity of life remains strong. The provenance of a discount store can reduce the price level, but not the meaning.
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