The ring is the piece of paper that surrounds one of the ends of the cigar, where the format of the cigar (the vitola) is indicated and the brand name of the factory that made it is identified. Some call it a vitola, although it seems that the correct name is ring.
Actually, much has been written about the origin and function of this small piece of paper and, as you might expect, there are many stories on the subject. However, today and for about 150 years, its main function is to display the manufacturer's seal and to give an attractive and even luxurious touch to the cigar.
Most tobacco companies pay a lot of attention to this accessory, sometimes going so far as to design and manufacture rings that are true works of art. Basically, when it is a particular production to celebrate an event or commemorate a special date. For this reason, many consider that more than a label that shows the brand name, it is a symbol that should remain in time as a sign of the excellence of a particular tobacco.
This is precisely the reason for the existence of the numerous collectors who, since their appearance and around the world, have valued the beauty and meaning of the rings as a treasure. The name vitolfilia is given to the hobby of collecting them, which, as you might expect, derives from the word vitola, another example of how complex and sometimes confusing the world of tobacco can be.
Now, is it important to remove the ring before smoking the cigar or should it be left on? There is no consensus on this either: for some experts, it is irrelevant, although with the warning that, if you decide to remove it, it is essential to wait for the cigar to warm up so as not to damage the wrapper in doing so. Others consider the band to be a mark indicating how far the cigar should be smoked. Of course, for those who collect them, breaking the ring or getting rid of it is a crime against all the symbolism it represents, including the memory of having smoked a good cigar. So, as is usually the case with almost everything related to cigars, the decision to remove or leave the band will ultimately be related to the smoker's personal tastes.
However, beyond these considerations, there is no doubt about the importance that these small pieces of lithographed paper have had and still have for many, which have become today one of the most known, valued and collected labels throughout history. An evident proof of their value for those who recognize them as testimonies of an era, a special event or simply of a moment in their lives.