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Jewish marriage ring

16th century

Gold Jewish marriage ring, the flat bezel with a blue enamel canopy on Solomonic pillars, over the Hebrew inscription Mazal tov (good luck), and crowned by an oval pearl surrounded by four smaller ones, the wide hoop decorated with three large and some smaller rosettes of open wire-work and eight quatrefoils in green enamel between a raised corded edging

18.34 mm internal ring diameter; 24.2 g weight

Bought in London

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F441

The distinctive Jewish wedding ring has been in use since the seventh and eighth centuries. Their origin, however, remains unknown. They were originally ascribed to Venice where there was a large population of Jews, but the enamelled gold filigree work is closer in style to that of Transylvanian goldsmiths. They were only used during the ceremony.
The bezel on this exceptional ring represents the canopy under which the bride and groom made their vows.

Scarisbrick and Henig, Finger Rings, 2003, pl. 17.4