Medieval Rings

les Enluminures


June 2017

June is the traditional month for weddings, when spring turns to summer and roses begin to blossom. Over the centuries jewellery has expressed feelings of deep emotion, romantic love, and the union between couples through precious finger rings — the circular form of the ring is itself a symbol of eternity. In marriage, worn on the ring finger of the left hand, rings were believed to have a direct link to the heart. Miniature in form yet enveloping the finger of the wearer, rings say “I love you” in timeless, intangible ways.

Ancient Romans introduced betrothal rings with motifs, such as the key ring inscribed with wishes for joyfulness (like “Utere Felix”), or with two clasped hands representing the vows given at the wedding ceremony. This motif was even more popular in the Middle Ages, Renaissance and beyond, in the form fede rings (Italian for “trust”), some with twinned hoops interspersed with hearts. The language of gemstones complemented expressions of love: rubies or garnets were emblems of passionate love, diamonds or rock crystals symbolised virtue and constancy, and emeralds signified hope. In England, posy rings (gold bands with concealed love verses) were popular as a sign of loyalty in marriage, with their hidden messages known only known to the wearer and giver.

In June we say “love is in the air,” but the expression of happiness and the union between couples is undoubtedly in the ring.

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