Medieval Rings

les Enluminures

Valentine's Day

February 2017

We celebrate Valentine's Day with gifts as symbols of love – from chocolates and flowers to gemstone rings and jewelry. This was also true from Antiquity through the Renaissance with rings and brooches decorated with symbols of love and fidelity on miniature scale. Fede rings with clasped hands (from mani in fede, Italian for “hands held in faith”) were studded with ruby and diamond gemstones as symbols of the heart and eternity. An eighteenth-century gimmel ring (from the Latin for “twin”) joins two hands to miniature hearts – the hands are easily moved apart and hinged together again to create a perpetual embrace. Lover’s fidelity was also symbolized in cameos showing a woman holding a small lap dog. Such a cameo encrusted with rose-cut diamonds was even more a sign of devotion literally etched in stone. So, what did you get for your sweetheart?

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