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Gimmel ring

Gimmel ring

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca.1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, cast, chased and enamelled

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 5

Object Type
The ring bears a Latin inscription from the marriage service, which confirms that it was used as a wedding ring. On one half are the words 'QUOD DEVS CONIVNXIT' ('What God has joined together') and on the other 'HOMO NON SEPARET' ( 'Let no man put asunder'). It is made of two intertwined halves, hence its name 'gimmel', which derives from the Latin gemellus, a twin. It can also be described as a 'fede' ring (Fede, Italian for 'trust') because of the two clasped hands on the bezel (head) of the ring, which indicate union, the plighting of love or friendship.

Ownership & Use
The style of the decoration and the Latin inscription suggest that the ring may have been made in Germany for a Catholic marriage. At the date when this ring was made, about 1600, it may well have been worn on the right rather than the left hand, according to the normal Roman Catholic practice. In 1614 in Catholic Europe the Rituale Romanum (an official Catholic book concerning the services of the church) laid down that the left hand was to be used, as now. English Roman Catholics, however, followed the old practice until about the middle of the 18th century.

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.

Place of Origin

Germany (possibly, made)


ca.1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold, cast, chased and enamelled

Marks and inscriptions

'What God has joined together let no man put asunder'
Latin; engraved


Diameter: 2.1 cm estimated

Object history note

From the Edmund Waterton collection. Shown at the Ironmongers Hall exhibition, 1861, ii, 509

Descriptive line

Gold gimmel 'fede' ring with traces of enamel. Inscribed 'QUOD DEVS CONIVNXIT', 'HOMO NON SEPARET'. Possibly Germany, about 1600.

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

Somers-Cock, Anna, Princely Magnificence: court jewels of the Renaissance, 1500-1630, V&A, 1980, p.67, cat. 60

Labels and date

British Galleries:

Rings engraved with declarations of love were called posy rings (from 'poesy' meaning poetry). It is frequently not possible to tell which love rings were wedding rings, unless, like two of these rings, they make a direct reference to marriage. Any ring could be a wedding ring, and plain gold bands did not become common until the second half of the 17th century. Interlinking rings are known as gimmel rings (gimmel means twin). They symbolised the joining of two people. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Gimmel rings


Metalwork; Marriage; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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