What is a gimmel ring? Why is it so special?
Sep 12, 2022
If you have a love for old-style rings with a modern twist, you'll love the uniquely classic gimmel ring: a ring that has two to three separate bands linked together to form a completed ring when assembled. It symbolizes unity and love.
What is a Gimmel Ring?
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A gimmel ring (or a gimmal ring) is a ring that has two to three separate bands. These bands link together to form a completed ring when assembled.
The gimmel ring symbolizes unity and love. It has traditionally been used as an engagement or wedding ring: each member of the couple wears a separate band, and on their wedding day, the links are combined to form one band.
Some gimmel rings include a third band that is worn by a witness. The witness keeps this band until the wedding day when all three bands are reunited on the bride's finger.
The fede ring is sometimes associated with the gimmel ring. A fede ring is a ring featuring two hands clasped together. It's often used as a symbol of love or friendship. The name comes from an Italian phrase, "mani in fede." It translates to "hands clasped in faith."
Gimmel ring history
The name "gimmel" comes from the Latin word "gemellus," meaning "twin." The gimmel ring was also known as a "joint ring" in Elizabethan England.
The history of this ring extends considerably far back. It first became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, especially in England and Germany. Typically, it was used as a symbol of love or engagement.
But it was sometimes used as a symbol of goodwill: upon meeting the Count of Gynes in 1202, Henry III of England have him an elaborate gimmal ring replete with a ruby and two emeralds.
By the late 18th century, the design possibilities for gimmal rings had expanded quite a bit. Some were very elaborate and made with five or more links. These were sometimes connected by a pivot to keep them together.
Gimmel ring meaning
Generally, gimmel rings symbolize unity and love, with the union of the two (or more) bands symbolizing the unity of a couple.
Incorporating imagery like the clasped hands of the fede ring can increase that symbolism. So can engraving names or special inscriptions on the sides of the bands.
Typical Gimmel Ring Designs
Different jewelers have different takes on the gimmel ring. But there are a few designs that are often used for this classic:
1. Interlocking gimmel rings
In this design, the pieces of the gimmel ring don't just sit flush with one another; they actually interlock.
2. holding hands gimmel ring
This design incorporates another classic in the jewelry world, the fede ring. The clasped hands symbolize unity and partnership.
3. Holding Hands and a third heart ring
This ring is a bit like the Irish or Claddagh ring (see below). But some gimmal rings can incorporate heart imagery without using the same hands/heart design as the Claddagh ring.
4. The Irish gimmel ring or the Claddagh ring
You might already be familiar with the Claddagh symbol of love: two hands holding a heart with a crown atop it. If you have Irish heritage or just admire the design, this is one worth considering.
5. The 3-piece gimmel ring.
With this design, three pieces (instead of two) unite to form a ring. This can be a great way to add some visual interest and complexity.
6. Flower gimmel ring
Like any other ring, gimmal rings can be adorned with stones and shapes. For a modern touch that also looks great in casual settings, you might consider a gimmal ring topped with a flower.
Famous Gimmel Rings
1. The Gimmel Engagement Ring of Martin Luther and Catherine Bora
The gimmel ring was the engagement ring of choice for Martin Luther, the founder of Lutheranism. Luther married Catherine Bora in 1525. The union was commemorated with a gimmal ring inscribed with the words "Whom God has joined together, Let no man put asunder."
2. The Good Witch Gimmel Ring
The gimmel ring has also appeared in popular culture, namely on the TV show The Good Witch. When the character Cassie (Catherine Bell) marries Sam (James Denton), Sam selects a beautiful gimmal ring to give her.
Why Buy a Gimmel Engagement or Wedding Ring?
Gimmel rings don't enjoy the same popularity they once had. But the simple and beautiful symbolism behind the design makes this ring worth considering.
Gimmal rings are also a great choice for engagement or wedding rings because each band can be customized with engravings, set stones, types of precious metals, etc.
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