Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
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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

1750-1775 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This piece is a rare example of an 18th century Freemason’s ring. It is identified by the tiny Masonic symbols that decorate the bezel: set square, ruler, compasses, level and trowel. These were tools used by stonemasons which Freemasons adopted symbolically. Set with emeralds and diamonds which may refer to Solomon's temple, it must have been made for a wealthy person. Rings set with Masonic symbols are comparatively unusual and do not form part of Masonic regalia. Masonic jewellery mostly comprises star shaped and set square badges, pendants and medals.

The first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1717 but Freemason lodges could be found in Germany from the 13th century.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Gold with emeralds and diamonds set in silver
Brief description
Gold ring, set with emeralds and rose-cut diamonds in silver collets, the bezel in the form of a shell filled with Masonic emblems, the shoulders set with emeralds, made in England, 1725-75.
Physical description
Gold ring, set with emeralds and rose-cut diamonds in silver collets. The bezel is in the form of a shell filled with Masonic emblems and the shoulders are set with emeralds.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 1.9cm
Object history
The ring was purchased from C. Schmidt, 13 Arundel Street, London. Freemason's Hall do not know of a C. Schmidt but the 1871 census lists a Constantine Schmidt, antiquarian and archaeologist living at 19 Arundel Street.



Freemason jewellery from the 18th century is rare but a comparable ring can be found in the Koch collection (cat. 826) and in the collection of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.



Subjects depicted
Summary
This piece is a rare example of an 18th century Freemason’s ring. It is identified by the tiny Masonic symbols that decorate the bezel: set square, ruler, compasses, level and trowel. These were tools used by stonemasons which Freemasons adopted symbolically. Set with emeralds and diamonds which may refer to Solomon's temple, it must have been made for a wealthy person. Rings set with Masonic symbols are comparatively unusual and do not form part of Masonic regalia. Masonic jewellery mostly comprises star shaped and set square badges, pendants and medals.



The first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1717 but Freemason lodges could be found in Germany from the 13th century.
Bibliographic references
  • A large collection of masonic jewellery and memorabilia was sold at Rosebery's auction house, West Norwood, London as part of the Quarterly Fine Art sale, 18-20 March 2014.
  • Oman, C.C. Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Rings, 1930. Ipswich, Anglia Publishing, 1993, cat. 344
  • A parallel can be seen in the Koch collection, ref. Chadour, Anna Beatriz Rings: the Alice and Louis Koch collection, W.S. Maney and Son Ltd, Leeds, 1994, cat. 826
Collection
Accession number
212-1870

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Record createdFebruary 10, 2003
Record URL
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