When Freemasons, Odd Fellows, and members of other fraternal orders want to show their rank and allegiance to their brothers, they often wear rings decorated with any of some 90 different symbols. The square and compass, combined so that one points up and the other points down, is the most widely used symbol of Freemasonry, made of two essential tools of construction. Sometimes the letter “G” is set between the tools, a symbol for God, otherwise known as the Grand Architect of the Universe. Other symbols found on fraternal rings include trowels (to symbolize the cementing of relationships between members), beehives (for industriousness), and the hourglass (mortality).
Some fraternal rings have hidden panels or can be flipped from, say, a monogram on one side to a square and compass on the other. Then there are the plain bands, which might be engraved inside with the name, date, and rank of the wearer, with symbols and jewels such as diamonds and rubies on the outside of the ring. And many rings bear numbers corresponding to a wearer’s degree or rank within an order.
For Masons who have attained high degrees, gold rings are worn with the same seriousness as a wedding ring, except on the index finger of the right hand. There are Rings of Professions, rings with the initials P.D.E.P., which stands for Pro Deo et Patria (For God and Country), and rings bearing mottoes such as Deus meumque jus (God and my right) and Virtus junxit, mors non separabit (What virtue joins, death cannot separate).
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All About Jewels Dictionary
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Clubs & Associations
- American Society of Jewelry Historians
- Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts
- Society of Jewellery Historians