I happened upon this incredible ring, attributed a German wedding ring from 1600-1650, on the Victoria & Albert Museum’s online archives. Two hands grasp an enameled diamond-set heart when the ring is worn, but when the ring is free from the finger, you can see it is actually comprised of three separate rings that rotate open to reveal secret engraving. On the insides of the shank, a portion of the marriage vows reads in German: “My beginning and my end” and “What God has joined together let no man put asunder”. Beyond the ring’s aesthetic value, this masterpiece is a historically-loaded combination of three styles of old rings: posy, gimmel, and fede rings.
A simple gold band with a small poem or verse engraved on the inside and/or outside is called a posy ring. Originally, in the Middle Ages, these rings were called resons; after 1430, they were referred to as posies– ‘poesy’ meaning ‘poetry’. Posy rings are believed to have been exchanged as love tokens more often than betrothel or wedding rings. The engravings were usually in French during the 13th and 14th Centuries, which was internationally regarded as “the language of love”. From the 15th Century on, English script was more common. The style of the lettering is also indicative of age: the first posies were written in Lombardic script (rounded manuscript-style) with a change to Blackletter (gothic script) in the 15th century.
A gimmel ring consists of two or three interlinked bands that are worn like one ring. The word “gimmel” comes from gemmellus, Latin for “the twins”. Historically, it is said that two interlocked bands represented man and woman; if there were three bands in the ring, they symbolized man, woman, and God or witness. Gimmel rings were created as far back as the 13th Century and were exchanged as symbols of friendship, love, or marriage. In their simplest form, two plain metal bands are linked. In the 15th century, gimmel rings became more popular and more elaborate, often incorporating sculptural components.
A fede ring depicts a right hand-shake. Ancient Roman versions were called dextrarum iunctio (“giving, joining of right hands”) and represented the political agreement between families that takes place when a man and woman were betrothed. The hands-clasped motif reappeared in the Middle Ages– as early as the 12th Century– and was reinterpreted into the Victorian age. The hands are sometimes sculpted into one band, with the handshake either featured on top of the finger or worn on the underside of a gemstone ring. The motif was alternatively incorporated by attaching different components atop separate bands of a gimmel ring that form a handshake when put together. In the 19th Century, these rings were referred to as fede rings– the name comes from the Italian phrase manos in fede which means “hands-clasped in faith”.
The awesome artistry in the German Renaissance ring inspired us to create our own reinvented posy-gimmel-fede ring. On the finger, it appears a modest gold ring modeled into a hand resting atop the finger. When you take the ring off and separate the bands, a female hand holding a garnet heart is revealed. The flat interiors of each band are intended for an engraved phrase, viewable only by the wearer.
Heirloom by Doyle & Doyle Garnet Heart Fede Gimmel Ring 18k, 093274R $1400
*Victoria & Albert Museum online database: www.vam.ac.uk
**Rings: Symbols of Wealth, Power and Affection, Diana Scarisbrick, Abrams 1993.
There’s always tons of excitement in July – the long weekend of the 4th, music festivals, outdoor activities, beach excursions and long summer nights.
So, in the jewelry world, it’s only fitting that the stone of the month is the fiery ruby.
Among natural gems, only diamond is harder, one reason for the ruby’s popularity in a variety of jewelry styles.
In Victorian jewelry, rubies were set in the heads of snake rings; in Art Nouveau pieces, which are often nature-inspired, they were set to resemble the petals of flowers; and you’ll see rubies often in Retro jewelry, boldly set in yellow or rose gold
Below, a look back in time to where (and how!) the ruby was worn:
It’s widely circulated that Queen Victoria’s wedding band was a snake biting its own tail. Whether or not this factoid is true, we may never know, but what I do know for sure is that there are tons of snake rings to be found (in a variety of styles) from the Victorian era.
They are often set with precious stones in their eyes or on top of their heads, and this particular one is set with a ruby, as well as a diamond and a sapphire.
There was a period of time during the Victorian era when jewelers were fixated on the design techniques of the Etruscans (ancient Romans). This 18k yellow gold necklace showcases both this design inspiration and beautiful old cut bezel set rubies.
Art Nouveau Era
Art Nouveau jewels are rife with organic shapes and motifs. A bright ruby (the color of flowers, fruits and other natural delicacies), only enhances this naturalistic beauty, as seen with these two curvaceous Art Nouveau pieces.
Due to the dearth of platinum and other jewelry materials during the Retro era (which spans World War II, from 1940 to 1950), jewelers used alternative metals such as yellow and rose gold, and alternative stones such as citrines, amethysts and, of course, rubies.
Their lack was our gain, because ruby jewelry from this era is always some of the boldest.
With the Heirloom by Doyle & Doyle line, we take inspiration from the motifs and designs of some of our most favorite antique pieces and fashion them anew. A great example are these serpent earrings, accented with ruby drops.
With all these great examples, it should be easy (or very, very hard if you are indecisive like me!) to add a ruby jewel to your collection.
Posted on February 3rd, 2009 by Lauren. Filed under Gifts.
As an indecisive Libra, it’s not strange that I fall in love with more than a few jewels in the store at once.
Thus is the case of these Diamond Knot Earrings. Part of the Doyle & Doyle Heirloom Collection, these figural 18k white gold studs are set with tiny diamonds. I myself already have the yellow gold Fleur de Lis Studs, but I can’t help but want to add these to my jewel box as well.
I especially like how they represent the unsung hero of love symbols – the knot. An ancient heraldic symbol of longevity and commitment, this hidden meaning is more than enough to make me hopelessly devoted.