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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1640-60 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled gold set with pearls surrounding an almandine garnet engraved with clasped hands

  • Museum number:

    857-1871

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 8, shelf D, box 4

The red almandine garnet surrounded by pearls suggests a flower, symbol of love. The red of the garnet was often used to symbolise passion whilst the pearls signified purity. The central garnet is engraved with two clasped hands, a motif known as a 'fede', from the Italian 'mani in fede' or hands clasped in trust. It could also be known as a 'hand in hand' ring. The clasped hands represent the handclasp which formed part of the marriage service and suggest that this ring was made as a love gift or wedding ring. The back of the bezel is painted with a pretty, enamelled flower, visible only to the owner.

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

Enamelled gold fede ring, with a lozenge shaped bezel set with pearls surrounding an almandine garnet engraved with clasped hands, the back of the bezel engraved with a red flower, with later Roman mark for gold (1815-70)

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

1640-60 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled gold set with pearls surrounding an almandine garnet engraved with clasped hands

Marks and inscriptions

Roman mark for gold (1815-70)

Dimensions

Height: 2.8 cm, Width: 2.3 cm, Depth: 1.7 cm

Object history note

Ex Waterton Collection. A ring with an emerald engraved with clasped hands was sold at Bonhams, London, 2004. There is a ring in the Koch collection (cat. 766) which is a has a crude cross shape and is set with a green glass imitation stone formed as a pair of clasped hands.

Descriptive line

Enamelled gold fede ring, with a lozenge shaped bezel set with pearls surrounding an almandine garnet engraved with clasped hands, Italy, 1640-60.

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

Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, p. 54-55, fig. 65
Bury, Shirley, Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), 33/L/10
Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, p. 105, cat. 667

Materials

Gold; Garnet; Pearl; Enamel

Subjects depicted

Love; Flowers; Lozenges; Hands

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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