A puzzle ring is a piece of jewelry made from several separate bands which interlock, typically in a pattern of knotwork. The ring can be disassembled, turning it into a puzzle which must be carefully manipulated to be put back together correctly. Primarily, these rings are used as a novelty, although ornate and customized versions are used as wedding, friendship, and promise rings. Many jewelry stores sell the rings, which range widely in complexity and price.
The history of the puzzle ring is not entirely clear. Popular mythology has it that the idea was developed in Turkey, when a man wanted to make sure sure that his wife was not cheating on him. He designed a ring which would come apart when removed, and presented it as his wedding ring. While this story seems a bit fanciful, some people know this type of ring as a Turkish wedding ring, suggesting that the legend may have a grain of truth.
A basic puzzle ring has only two bands, and is very easy to solve. Four and six band rings are very common, and accomplished jewelers may make rings with even more bands. All of the bands interlock, meaning that the ring stays together even when the bands come apart, ensuring that no bands will be lost. The bands can be be made from one metal, or a mixture of metals, depending on taste. Sterling silver is a common choice of metal, while pure gold rings are rare because the metal can deform, potentially damaging the ring.
In many cases, a puzzle ring comes with solving directions. Solving the puzzle requires patience and a steady hand. If you are struggling with a puzzle ring, remember not to force or compress the ring, because distorting the rings will make it impossible to solve. Once you get the hang of it, you can solve the puzzle very quickly, which can be a neat party trick.
Describing the solution to a puzzle ring is difficult, as each ring is slightly different. The following directions are for a basic four band ring, but they can be extrapolated and manipulated for larger rings. Make sure to work with the ring in good light conditions and in an area without distractions.
Start by identifying the two outside bands. They will have a rounded, glossy edge, rather than a rougher edge from inside the ring. Bring them together with their knotwork “V's” facing away from each other, allowing the two inside rings to dangle. Grasp the dangling rings and invert them, keeping their knotwork facing down, so that the oriented outside rings face downwards and their knotwork is also at the bottom.
Next, carefully twist one of the inside rings counter-clockwise. If the inside rings were oriented correctly, they will nestle together, and the outside rings will be caught between them. You may need to reorient the inside rings several times to accomplish this. Your goal is to end up with the outside band trapped inside the small hole formed between the knotwork and the start of the inside bands on both sides of the puzzle ring. The ring should look like the numeral “8” at this point.
Next, carefully rotate one of the outside bands and slip its knotwork below the inside rings, gently pushing it down so that its band nestles against the inside bands. Do the same with the other outside ring, and gently jostle the ring so that the knotwork and bands come together. The first time you do this, it may take some time, but you will get very skilled at it if you keep practicing. If it becomes irritating, use a jump ring to hold the bands together so that they will not separate.