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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Europe (west, made)

  • Date:

    1800-50 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold

  • Museum number:

    859-1871

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 23, shelf C, box 1

The clasped hands on the bezel of this ring show that it is a fede ring. This type of ring was known in Roman times and has been used in Europe from the medieval period until the nineteenth century. The expression fede or mani in fede is taken from the Italian, meaning 'hands clasped in trust' and was often used on love gifts and marriage rings. In 16th and 17th century England, these rings were also known as 'hand in hand', such as the ring left by Johan Broucker to her sister in 1577, described as a 'ringe of golde with an hande in hande'

The hoop of this ring can be divided into two interlocked circles. Rings made in this way are called gimmel rings, from the Latin word for twin. These rings were especially popular as love gifts, the join of the hoops symbolising the bond between lovers. These rings continued to be made into the 19th century, the hoops on later rings are typically joined by a small pin rather than intertwined.

This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-87). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.

Physical description

Gold gimmel fede ring with three pivoted hoops, joined by a small pin. The middle hoop, with milled edges is set with two conjoined hearts, the others with clasped hands masking the hearts.

Place of Origin

Europe (west, made)

Date

1800-50 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold

Dimensions

Height: 2.5 cm, Width: 3 cm, Depth: 0.6 cm

Object history note

ex Waterton Collection

Descriptive line

Gold gimmel fede ring, Western Europe, 1800-50.

Materials

Gold

Subjects depicted

Love; Gimmel rings

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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