Jewelry has been a form of visual communication from the start of human history, and from the beginning it has always assumed a form of personal adornment while it projected a type of status symbol up to the position of kings and emperors. It is likely that from an early date. Jewelry made from shells, stone and bones has survived from prehistoric times. In the ancient world the discovery of how to work metals was an important stage in the development of the art of jewelry. Over time, metalworking techniques became more sophisticated and decoration more intricate.
From a very early age, a woman started wearing jewelry whose shapes and materials were believed to ensure her ability to bear healthy children later in life.
As narrated by Hazrat Anas, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had a silver gemstone ring and its stone was Abyssinian gem. (Muslim, Libas, 61). Some scholars said the stone was cornelian. As its mine was in Abyssinia, it was named so. (see Nawawi, explanation of the related hadith).
In some narrations, cornelian was clearly stated and that the phrase “the gemstone of the ring was cornelian” was used (see Nawawi, explanation of the related hadith).
It is Sunnah to wear the ring with the gemstone turned outward to the back of the hand (zhahir al-kaff) since that is how Ibn `Abbas said the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) wore it, and how Ibn `Abbas himself wore it, – on the smallest finger of his right hand – as narrated by Abu Daud and al-Tirmidhi in their Sunnah, and the latter said al-Bukhari told him it was a “hasan sahih” hadith.
The literal Sunnah here would be for the gemstone to have an inscription, as the Prophetic reason for keeping a signet-ring in the first place was utilitarian (to sign letters) and not aesthetic. Yet beautification (tazayyun) is permitted for the believer or rather encouraged, without ostentation.
It is also established that the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) wore it on both the right and the left hand, and Sheikh Suleiman al-Jamal in his commentary on al-Tirmidhi’s Shama’il said that both hands are Sunnah as long as the ring is on one of the last two fingers of the hand, but the right hand is a superior Sunnah. Al-Qari in his Sharh al-Shama’il, however, states that wearing it on the left is farther from ostentation, especially on the little finger, and especially with the setting turned inwards, and Allah knows best.
Ibn Hajar said: “If one wears a ring for beautification then the right hand is more deserving; if for a signature-seal then the left, as if for safe-keeping and in order to take it with the right hand at the time of signing. But in absolute terms the right is preferable since the left is used for cleaning oneself.”
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