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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1800-30 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold set with rubies
Brief Description
Gold ring with a single serpent with three coils, the eyes set with rubies, England, early 1800-30.
Physical Description
Gold ring with a single serpent with three coils, the eyes set with rubies
Dimensions
  • Depth: 0.8cm
  • Diameter: 2.2cm
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mrs A. B. Woodcroft
Object history
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
Subject depicted
Summary
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).
Bibliographic References
  • Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, p.82, fig. 105
Collection
Accession Number
476-1903

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record createdNovember 7, 2005
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