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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1830-60 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled gold

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.172-1962

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 23, shelf C, box 2

Enamelled with roses and daisies, this ring was a charming lover's gift. The little hinged panels set around the hoop open to reveal the French inscriptions: 'I love you a little, a lot, passionately and not at all', based on a game played by plucking the petals from a daisy.The language of flowers is believed to have come to Europe from the Ottoman court. Lady Mary Wortley, wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople, described the custom in a letter of 1718:

"There is no colour, no flower... that has not a verse belonging to it; and you may quarrel, reproach, or send Letters of passion, friendship, or Civility, or even of news, without ever inking your fingers."

In 1819 Louise Cortambert, writing under the pen name 'Madame Charlotte de la Tour,' wrote ‘Le Langage des Fleurs’, the first dictionary to lay out the significance of each flower. According to this, the roses on this ring symbolised love and daisies, innocence.

The idea of hinged panels was also used by the Parisian jeweller Jean Baptiste Fossin (1786-1848) who created a ring for the Duchesse de Fitz-James combining lockets of hair under panels bearing the initials of her six children.

Physical description

Gold ring, enamelled with sprigs. A small hinged lid around the circumference conceals amatory mottoes beginning 'JE T'AIME'.

Place of Origin

France (made)

Date

1830-60 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled gold

Marks and inscriptions

'JE T'AIME passionement'; JE T'AIME pas du tout; JE T'AIM u[n peu]; JE T'AIME[beau]coup
'I love you passionately,' I don't love you at all; I love you a little; I love you a lot
There is some damage to the enamelled inscriptions

Dimensions

Depth: 0.6 cm, Diameter: 2 cm

Object history note

Ex Sir John Evans and Mrs C J Longman Collections.

Similar rings are illustrated in Anna-Beatriz Chadour 'Rings: the Alice and Louis Koch collection', cat. 1476 and cat. 1482. A closely related ring in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris has hallmarks for 1828. 'Historic Rings' by Diana Scarisbrick illustrates a similar ring which bears mourning rather than love inscriptions (cat.404). A similar ring with blue enamelled flowers and panels spelling out 'Souvenir' was sold by Christie's South Kensington, 9 October 2012 from the Jurgen Abeler Collection. See also Christie's 'Jewellery, Antique Jewels and Rings', 2 October 1991, lot. 378.

Descriptive line

Gold ring, enamelled with sprigs. A small hinged lid around the circumference conceals amatory mottoes beginning 'JE T'AIME', France, 1830-60.

Materials

Gold; Enamel

Subjects depicted

Love; Floral sprays

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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