Since the fall of the Roman Empire there has never been a time when rings have fallen into disuse. The use of rings for sealing has been engrained in history since ancient Egypt, with their production becoming markedly widespread in Europe by the fifteenth century. Worn on the thumb or index finger for facility of use, some signets bore the symbol of occupation, others indicated a particular past-time of the owner, whereas the majority of medieval and Renaissance signets bore the initials or the heraldic motif of its owner, with their coats of arms, crests and badges engraved into the bezel. This two-letter “AI” signet might represent the Christian name and surname of its owner, or, given the presence of the True Lover’s Knot, signify the initials of two individuals recently married, like a “seal of love”, as in the case of a ring given by Mary Stuart to Lord Darnely, today in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
“…a good addition to a jewellery historian’s library” : Rachel Church, curator in the Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass Department at the V&A, London, reviews Sandra Hindman’s publication "Take this Ring: Medieval and Renaissance Rings from the Griffin Collection"
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.