There’s A Certain Ring To It by Rikesh Chauhan
From a simple style accessory to a lifelong promise and bond, the ring is one of the most versatile pieces of jewellery one can wear.
Dating back to almost 2300BC, the ring was likely first introduced to society as a status symbol, and token of rank and identification; adorned by inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia and passed down throughout the ages. The colours yellow and gold represented the sun, which would go some way to explaining why jewellery discovered in Egyptian tombs were often made with the precious metal. Although only a handful were discovered, these rings were apparently made in the style of modern-day signet rings.
The Ancient Greeks would adapt this using silver and more accessible materials, and worn for general adornment rather than strictly societal status. As trade routes began to expand from the Silk Roads to around the world, rings, being the versatile pieces they are, began varying in size and style, from simple bands to ostentatious bejewelled wonderments decked out with various gems—the rarer the jewel, the more important the wearer Religious, artistic and geographical eras would further influence the design, and to an extent, saturate its significance.
Going against the grain and bringing the ring back to its rightful place as one of the most significant pieces of jewellery one can own, however, is one of the hardest working craftspeople you’re ever likely to meet. Alice has created a variety of different rings in a plethora of styles and metals that will work their magic—whatever the occasion, whatever the weather.
A precise collection of 925 silver, 9-carat and 18-carat gold rings, plus brass, copper and steel signet rings for men, forms the set of offerings for men and women, created by London’s Alice Made This. Whether you are looking for an everyday ring to form part of your casual and work attire, or a unique approach to a wedding band, the men's rings offer precise details with a story behind them and are newest to Alice’s jewellery range. The women’s offering, on the other hand, favours a more tailored, elegant and delicate approach to hardware. A minimalist selection of rings in silver, gold and rose gold, the beautiful pieces are designed to be worn individually as well as to be stacked together, creating individual looks for day, night and everything in between.
Before I highlight some of my personal favourites, I want to first explore something that I most appreciate about Alice Made This jewellery—the finishing. The more traditional, polished look is something that works incredibly well, especially when it comes to the classic bands or signet rings. The rose gold, in particular, looks no greater than when it is immaculately polished. If you prefer something a little more understated and significantly more contemporary, the matte option is ideal for you. A textured effect and look, the grain and tones indirectly pay homage to the earliest origins of the jewellery—which were said to have been made from stone, bone and pebbles. The connection between the jewellery—all of which is hand-crafted—and the natural metals of the earth which are used to create them, provides a certain level of synergy and significance you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. There’s a level of awe that surrounds craftspeople like Alice, those that put all of their education, skill, experience and know-how into creating the best possible pieces, for us, to keep for generations to come.
One of the key points to remember here is that, whilst the rings are labelled as men’s and women’s, there is a level of fluidity to them. I have worn some of the women’s rings (usually acting as signet rings due to the smaller sizes) and my wife often throws in a few men’s rings into the mix. The key thing for me is that if you like a particular ring, don’t worry about the labels that may come with; simply focus on how to wear it, and what occasions they call for.
Going back to the early significance of the ring—as society began to develop, rings also developed beyond simply status and identification. They began to be given to others as a sign of a lifelong bond, and slightly less romantically put, as ownership of one another. You often see rings given to represent marriage, friendship and purity. Focusing on Ancient Rome, it was said the reason these marriage rings were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand was because of an old belief that that specific finger is connected by a vein directly to the heart. Naturally, it was called the vein of love. The bands were often simplistic, as diamonds weren’t introduced until the late 1400s. Further still, the notion of spending ‘two months’ salary’ on an engagement ring was coined by De Beers for a clever marketing campaign for their brand in the 1930s.
Alice Made This has a selection over 30 different types of wedding rings for him and her. These rings are ones that you’ll (hopefully) be wearing for the remainder of your lives, so trust me when I say that it’s best to go for something classic. Fortunately, all of these wedding rings are timeless, so it’s really just a case of colour, width and metal preference. The most traditional are without doubt the polished 18 carat gold, silver gold and platinum rings. For slender fingers, a 2mm band is so much more elegant, whereas a 3mm and 4mm option is available for those that prefer something with a little bit more bulk. Should you want something slightly against the norm, you could go for a rose gold option, or a matte finish for something very sleek and subtle. The wedding rings are made to order, and take approximately 4 to 6 weeks to create, and start from £360 - significantly less than two months’ salary. Happy days all round, if you ask me.
Now, let’s say you’re already married and therefore aren’t in need of a wedding ring. Or you’re not married and have absolutely zero plans to do so any time soon. Fear not, for Alice’s rings aren’t limited to situations involving tuxes, white dresses and nervously walking down the aisle, and praying you don’t suddenly come down with a case of amnesia and subsequently forget your significant other’s name. No one needs another ‘I take thee, Rachel’ moment.
Firstly, let’s discuss the names. (Of the rings, not your partner). One of my favourite rings for the gents is the Bacchus. The ring looks how it sounds - masculine, tough, and intriguing. The name pays homage to Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, inebriation, fertility and theatre. Bacchus was said to be joyous, kind and considerably mischievous. “He has an aristocratic nature about him, so the name was a tongue-in-cheek way of contemporising our traditional signet ring,” said Alice. Another way they’ve done this is by creating the ring beyond the classic polished gold. In fact, you can’t get it in gold at all. My favourite variations are the matte finished ones which you can get in steel and brass. You can also get these polished, or if you’re looking for something truly unique, opt for the polished copper version. It’s a great ring that goes with pretty much any look, so you don’t need to worry too much about your outfit choices.
When you’re scrolling on the website, you may notice that quite a few of Alice’s rings end with P2, B4, M3 etc. Breaking down the method to the madness—it’s all actually pretty simple and will go a long way in helping you differentiate and decide. P means Polished, B stands for Blasted, and M are rings with a Matte finish. The numbers highlight the width (in mm), so if you set your eyes on a P3, that’s a polished 3mm piece. Easy.
The Bancroft is the perfect choice for when you’re looking for something with timeless appeal, and it has the added benefit of having twelve variations, spanning widths of 2mm to 6mm and made from blasted, polished or matte silver and gold. The Bancroft collection is inspired by Brutalism, and the name comes from one of the architects who forged the style at hand. ‘Brutalism’ is characterised by the massive, monolithic and ‘blocky’ appearance with rigid geometric style as well as rough, unfinished surfaces and straight lines. These unique rings can work perfectly as accessories as well as something more meaningful. Whilst they’re not a part of the signature wedding collection, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were and bring solid 925 silver into the mix.
Speaking of, the wedding ring collection is cast in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter by expert jewellers before being delicately finished by hand. Stamped with Alice Made This’s unique hallmark by the Assay Office, the bespoke 2mm and 4mm wedding rings are available in 18 carat gold, rose gold, white gold and platinum. With an engineered and simple form, the squared edge and curved underside celebrates the utmost comfort and minimalist, timeless design. The made to order wedding bands are delivered in AMT gift boxes and are paired with a pocket size ceremony box for you to use on the day of the wedding. The process is simple too—choose your band width, your material and your finish and Alice will create your bespoke wedding ring to your exact sizing requirements.
The women’s rings is where the magic happens. The stunning nature of these rings allow them to be paired, stacked or stand out individually. They adapt to your style, your whim, your nature and your mood. For these rings, I photographed the wonderful Rosie, who has a delicate charm to her. The rings, therefore, work together with her style like poetry in motion. As modelled by Rosie, below, the Kitson ring’s proportions are driven by statistics and mathematics in nature, meaning they stack together incredibly, but look equally as good when worn by themselves. The Kitson, along with the Anning, was named after the illustrious geographers and were part of AMT’s coastline collections where the forms and finishes are inspired and informed by geotechnical movement.
In addition to these are the Tio and Mia rings. These women’s pieces were aesthetic extensions of Alice Made This’s men’s collections, so they looked for feminine names that derived from the names of the equivalent men’s language. Tio is a move on from their Thomas cufflinks, for example, and the Mia from the Morris keyring. On these rings, Alice said, “I love the geometric nature of the Mia and the fact you can wear it with the circle sitting high over your finger joint or flip it and have it low over your knuckle. The Tio and Mia and all of the women’s rings work well stacked together. Be it the same styles, different styles, a mix of materials - whichever way suits you. It all works. The Mia ring is my personal favourite ring. The circular shape of the Mia is our take on a Karma ring. The open circle symbolizes wholeness, completion, stillness within motion, and a unifying order of cycles that repeat in time.”
The Mia is also probably my favourite of all styles. To me, it perfectly encapsulates everything Alice Made This stands for as a brand. The level of detail in the design, the quality of material and finish, the elegance and delicacy of it which juxtaposes its inherent toughness and rigidity. It’s versatile to look bold when it needs to, and subtle when it wants to. These photos of Rosie modelling the Mia ring are some of my favourites to date.
And with that being said, you’re in for a treat with the Cocktail ring set. As mentioned in my previous blog post, these rings make for the perfect gift - as individual rings or as the complete collection. The polished gold five-ring set consists of Margot, Audrey, Delilah, Delaney and Ellison. These individual pieces are already stacked by nature, so it’s best just to wear one of the five for the evening to avoid looking too overdone. It’s all you really need to be fair, as these pieces are ones that make a statement without having to make a sound. They command attention and respect but allude to the viewer that you really know your stuff. The same way art collectors invest in pieces that demand conversation, these cocktail rings are no different.
Rings are a subtle way of making a statement, and letting your attire do the talking. A couple of my favourite quotes regarding style comes from the inimitable Sir Hardy Amies, who, on style, said, “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” And specifically focusing on men’s dress, “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.” Whatever your style mantra is, I’m willing to bet that there’s an Alice Made This ring with your name all over it.
Rikesh Chauhan, professionally know as RKZ (pronounced Ricks), is a Luton-born singer, menswear writer and photographer, based in East London. You can learn more about his work here.