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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1800-30 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold set with rubies

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs A. B. Woodcroft

  • Museum number:

    476-1903

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 23, shelf C, box 4

Snakes have been used in jewellery since the ancient Egyptians. They were associated with healing deities such as Isis in Egypt or the Greek God of medicine, Asclepius. They symbolised regeneration, healing and rebirth and therefore were used as a symbol of eternity. This association with regeneration and eternity led to their use on both love and mourning jewellery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Queen Victoria's engagement ring was a snake with emerald eyes.

This ring is said to have been owned by George IV (1762-1830). He may be wearing it in a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the Wallace Collection (559).

Physical description

Gold ring with a single serpent with three coils, the eyes set with rubies

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1800-30 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold set with rubies

Dimensions

Depth: 0.8 cm, Diameter: 2.2 cm

Object history note

Said to have been a favourite ring of King George IV who is perhaps wearing it in a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the Wallace Collection (559)

Historical significance: The serpent ring, based on a Roman design, was internationally popular throughout the 19th century

Descriptive line

Gold ring with a single serpent with three coils, the eyes set with rubies, England, early 1800-30.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, p.82, fig. 105

Materials

Gold; Ruby

Subjects depicted

Snakes

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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