Solving the Puzzle Ring

“Fish Lips and X-Marks-The-Spot,” I told Claire when I showed her the treasure in my hands.

Fish Lips and X-Marks-The-Spot?


I’ve started wearing my Puzzle Ring again, and I love it. I have more than one Puzzle Ring, and the one I’ve donned most recently was procured at a Renaissance Faire almost 20 years ago. It’s held up over the years, partially because it was hidden away in a box of treasures until my fancy struck.

I felt the niggling feeling of change tickling me, so I got out my Puzzle Ring. Claire was happy to see a treasure from my past, and I was happy to share it with her.

It’s been many years since I’ve put it together, and I’m not going to lie. I was worried. Would I remember the twists and turns? Would I be left with a jumbled mess, the pieces taunting me with their process, the specific turns that must follow, one behind the other, and the order precise? Maybe I should just slip it out of the box and directly on my finger, while being careful not to jostle it? (I had, after all, carefully stored it together, thinking a day may come in the future when I’d let the secret of the Puzzle Ring slip from my grasp.)

I knew I could always do a search online to solve it, but could I do it from memory?

“Fish Lips and X-Marks-The-Spot,” popped into my head immediately, but I slipped it on my finger without disturbing the bands. I wasn’t ready to try it. I’d try to solve it after admiring it in its current state.

It wasn’t long before the suspense got to me. By that point, I’d worn it for hours, but I felt like a fraud. Only those who can put a Puzzle Ring together should wear one. Could I still do it, after all these years? I took a deep breath, slipped it off my finger, and dropped it into my hand.

As you can see, the rings slip apart, but never disconnect. The delicate bands interlock. You can pick up each band, and doing so makes the others hang in tiny, twisted mobiles.

Could I do it?

Although my fingers shook slightly, my former training did not disappoint.

“Fish Lips and X-Marks-The-Spot.”

Here’s what to do when presented with the jumbled mess of a 4-band Puzzle Ring. (Pro Tip: Almost all 4 Band Puzzle Rings go together the same way. I’m not trained in the arts of the 6-or-more band Puzzle Rings, but I’d love to try someday!)

Fish Lips

The Fish Lips are the bands that create the outer border of the ring. On this particular one, they are not only on the bottom of the ring, but they wrap around to be on top as well. That’s what make Puzzle Rings charming; the pieces intertwine.

First Step: Find the Fish Lips, and get the bands to rest flat against each other.


Second Step: X-Marks-The-Spot

This part is the trickiest. While holding on to the Fish Lips, examine the other two bands. You’ll notice one has a notch in the middle. This is where the other band rests on it. They form an X. Fit these bands together carefully, trapping the other bands, as seen here:

Third Step: Trap the Fish Lips in the X and flip them apart.

You may have to wiggle the bands around to get them to do this. You may have to release the Fish Lips and try again. Whatever you do, don’t force anything. It’s designed to fit together in a way that is simple.

(There’s a lesson here about how Simple isn’t always Easy, but I digress…)

Fold the Fish Lips In

Fourth Step: Fold the Fish Lips In

Spin each band so that you can tuck the Fish Lip under the X. Some rings have pronounced dimples in the bands, and you can tell which one needs to go in first and lay under the rest. Some are trickier. (Honestly, it’s hard to tell on my ring which one goes in first.) Don’t force the pieces. When it’s right, they’ll fall in easily. If it’s not right, it won’t. Just wiggle one out and wiggle the other in until it does.

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