A masonic ring signifies several things to the wearer. Most of all, it is an outward symbol and reminder of the pledge and promise he has given to the fraternity. There are a variety of styles and symbols that can be chosen. There is no standard for the rings and the wearer can choose the design and symbols to display. However, it is universally recognised that if a masonic ring is being worn, the bearer is a true Mason.
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Masonic rings have no known specific origin, as even the organisation has history that predates the official first meeting of a Grand Lodge in London in June 1717. Masons are not required to wear a ring, however only a Mason should wear one because it is a symbol of belonging to the brotherhood and the pledge the wearer has made.
As a source of pride and an outward symbol, the masonic ring can demonstrate several things: membership in the fraternity, the type of lodge he is a member of, the rite he has passed through and the level of masonry he has achieved, among other things. These things are reflected in the design. Craftsmen create masonic rings or the wearer can design one that is a custom ring. Typically, a masonic ring is gold to symbolise both the high value of belonging to the brotherhood and the purity of the intentions of the wearer. The stones can range from blue enamel to diamonds or other precious stones. Blue is a significant colour because it represents several things to a mason and is a common theme in masonic rings. The symbols of the square and compass are nearly always present as the "tools" of a mason, and the different rites can be shown on a ring such as Scottish Rite, or Eastern Star. There are varying degrees of masonry, and a Mason will often choose to display this status somewhere on the ring.
The three backbone principles of masonic teaching are brotherly love, relief, and truth. The ring symbolises not only the pledge to these principles, but it is an outward sign that the wearer has pledged himself to his specific lodge, his brothers, and the beliefs of the organisation. A ring is a symbol of ancient proof of devotion, and as in marriage, the masonic ring signifies the brothers' solemn pledge to uphold these principles.
As there is not a standard for the design or wearing of the ring, there is no specified order as to how a Mason should wear it and there is discussion even among the fraternities as to which is the correct way. The symbols of the square and compass are at the heart of this issue, and one of the most frequently debated aspects of a masonic ring. Some recommend the wearer display the ring with the compass points directed at himself to remind him of his obligation. Others suggest wearing them pointed outward is a symbol of his authenticity as a Mason.
The Seal of Distinction
Regardless of design, direction of the compass points, or the rite or degree displayed, the masonic ring signifies one main thing to the wearer or those who witness its bearing--the value of the wearer as a member of the fraternity and his significance in the community. As an organisation that promotes brotherhood, support and charitable works, it cannot be denied that identifying a Mason by his symbolic ring brings a level of importance and respect to the wearer. In history, theft of the signet ring was often punishable by death. The true value of a masonic ring is the seal of authenticity that the wearer is, in fact, a Mason and has earned the right to display this symbol.
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