English gold rings engraved with images and inscriptions were highly desired in the 15th century. Iconographic rings were made almost exclusively in England, some with images of three or more saints. This iconographic ring is finely engraved with an image of the Trinity and decorated around a twisting band with flowers. The Trinity (or also Throne of Mercy) is found painted in 15th-century Books of Hours with prayers that urged the reader to picture themselves in the presence of the three-fold God. On rings, the image was thought to protect the wearer against evils and dangers. Here the goldsmith skillfully rendered the Trinity in a thumbnail-sized image, even showing Christ's wound with a single tap of the tool. Rings with twisted bands were also popular in 15th-century England, like the ring engraved "en bon an" in Gothic black letter script. Both French and English were spoken and written in court throughout 15th-century England, with “bon an“ and other well-wishes inscribed in rings that were given as gifts for the New Year.
Whether it is made of natural miracles or marvels of human invention and skill, jewelry has adorned the human body since prehistoric times. The Newark Museum has been collecting jewelry since 1911, and has one of the most comprehensive holdings in the country.
This Les Enluminures exhibition will open in London in November and travel to New York through December. It explores the eternal forms, inspirations, and aesthetics of finger rings across many cultures throughout history, with over forty rings deriving from China, the Middle East, Europe, and America.