You probably know that rings are among the many aspects that constitute the image of those who ride motorcycles. The things you probably don’t know are the history of this statement accessory and its meaning. We’re going to bridge this gap for you.
What Are Biker Rings and Where Did They Come From?
The motorcycle subculture is a relatively new phenomenon. The first biker clubs started appearing after WWII all over the USA, and their founders were exactly war veterans. Once introduced to motorcycles during their military service, they couldn’t part with them in civil life. Clearly, at that time, a young subculture had very little in terms of identity – the look of the riders was dictated by considerations of convenience and as well as formed under the influence of their military past. Needless to say, those looks weren’t as decorated as they are now.
That being said, motorcyclists did wear some kind of jewelry that allowed separating one motorcycle club from another as well as speaking about their beliefs or worldviews. For instance, it wasn’t uncommon for the veterans to flaunt Iron Crosses; the trophies are taken from the war to indicate their dissatisfaction with the US policy and the changes that took place in society during their days on the battlefields. Another iconic accessory that is strongly associated with motorcyclists is a wallet chain. It has been around since the early days of the movement, but it had a purely utilitarian function – to protect possessions from loss and theft.
The turning point in biker fashion came in the 1950s. Firstly, rebels on two-wheelers have earned themselves a pretty nasty reputation, and Hollywood, which has long been looking for bad boy characters, responded immediately with an avalanche of films about motorcycle gangs terrorizing civilians. The bikers depicted in these movies had a glamorized appeal and flaunted more than a few accessories (aviator shades, thick belts, etc.). Although Hollywood-made bikers were slightly different from real-life peers, they cemented the leather-and accessory-wearing image in the heads of the masses. Since then, this fashionable canon has been followed by weekend warriors and avid motorcyclists alike.
The second factor that helped create the image of modern bikers is the emergence of the so-called Mexican Rings. The Mexican economy went through hard times in the first half of the 20th century. The Mexican Revolution and the political, social, and economic crisis that ensued devalued the national currency. Unable to use coins as a means of payment, resourceful Mexicans started re-shaping them into jewelry as well as arts and crafts. Eventually, Centavos-turned-rings crossed the border and caught the eye of motorcycle riders. For them, these baubles opened up new vistas for expressing themselves and added unique features to their appearance.
Indeed, Mexican rings were inimitable due to the fact that they were made by hand from a material with its own unique story, and most of the patterns or images they carried were hitherto unknown to American motorcyclists. Aspiring to stand out from the pack, bikers gladly embraced Mexican rings. Over time, the biker subculture incorporated many new (and not so new) images and symbols into their rings, and you can find some of them at Bikerringshop.
Meaning Behind Biker Rings
Obviously, the penchant for quirky, burly, and larger-than-life rings stemmed from the desire to stand out. But the reasons why bikers wear rings go far beyond fashion.
As we mentioned, Mexican biker rings are the product of the creativity and talent of Mexican artisans, and each of these pieces was one of a kind. Needless to say, something that exists in a single copy and is made by hand has more value than the stuff available in abundance. At some point, these rings became something between money and collectibles – they were treasured, traded, used as means of payment, given as gifts … The value of the original Mexican rings is still consistently high, although no one uses them as a kind of biker currency anymore.
Another reason that made rings sought-after among motorcyclists is their sentimental meaning. A gift from a friend, a ring dedicated to a memorable event, or a custom-made bauble bearing a symbol dear to the motorcyclist’s heart – these things make rings worth keeping.
Last but not least, biker rings are a simple yet reliable way of self-expression. Thanks to the wide array of symbols and imagery they can carry, they represent everything under the sun – what kind of music its owner listens to, which animal he associates himself with, his attitude toward religion, and even his views about the biker movement and his place in it.
More than Accessory
Biker rings are often on the radar when someone desires to complete their look with a daring vintage piece. There is nothing bad about it. However, you should not choose this accessory only because it is the in thing and it looks cool. To understand how cool these baubles really are, you need to understand the meaning of this or that symbol and where it came from. Hopefully, it will give you more appreciation of the biker subculture and a great many symbols it benefits from.