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Jewish marriage ring

16th century

Gold Jewish marriage ring, the bezel formed as a high pitched roof of blue enamel opening by a hinge strap and inscribed inside with a Hebrew inscription, Mazal tov (good luck), the wide hoop decorated with massive double corded borders enclosing five openwork rosettes with green and blue enamelled leaves and corded rings suspended from hoops and double corded work on either side

19.96 mm internal ring diameter; 24 g weight

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F442

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 bridegroom placed it on the middle finger of the bride's right hand.

Scarisbrick and Henig, Finger Rings, 2003, pl. 17.3

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