Surrounded by mystery, the Freemasons have long been known to be a secretive order that focuses on tradition and rituals. Many of the Freemasons wear some form of ring or jewelry to indicate their membership within this society. The types of rings worn can seem mysterious as they each have a special significance but each ring is based upon a few principle concepts.
The first idea behind the Masonic rings is the symbolism of eternity not only in life but in the brotherhood created by the Masons. It is a reminder that the wearer is bound to the Masons for life and that they will always be bound to the wearer as well as a symbol of the promise that has been made to the order. These rings also signify their membership to the Masons to those who are outside the brotherhood. Masons are also able to identify other Masons by these signet rings, increasing the sense of belonging to this order.
Several symbols are available to be inscribed upon the signet ring worn by Masons. The most frequently chosen symbol is the square and compass that is a commonly used theme in the Mason society. The letter G is also often added when the ring is created and stands for GAOTU, which is an abbreviation of Great Architect of the Universe. This is in reference to the belief that the universe has been designed by a higher power, such as a conceptualization of God.
Masons may wear other forms of rings that hold different meanings within the order. Scottish Rite, Shrine and Templar symbols are also frequently seen on Masonic rings. The Templar signet ring features a symmetrical cross centered on the ring, signifying a claim of lineage for the freemason’s to the original order of the Knights Templar. These knights were known to protect those who sought the Holy Land on their journey from dangers such as criminals or attackers.
Scottish Rite rings are a simple gold band featuring an equilateral triangle surrounding Yud, a Hebrew letter that is the initial of a deity. An inscription is typically placed inside the ring that reads “Whom virtue unites, death shall not separate.” Shine rings feature a sword and crescent in the primary design on the signet ring. Other forms of rings that are sometimes used include those that indicate membership in branches such as Eastern Star or Blue Lodge.
No matter the type of Masonic ring chosen, there are rules of etiquette for wearing them, the first being that only master Masons have the right to wear a Masonic ring. Worn on the third finger of the right hand, it is often the only Masonic ring worn unless the Mason is a member of more than one branch within the brotherhood. This etiquette is followed by all members of the Masons.