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Love ring

Italy

15th century

Silver ring, the flat oval bezel with a female bust and a flower in niello, the convex hoop shaped as clasped hands with an imitation of sleeves decorated with niello on the shoulders

17.93 mm internal ring diameter; 8.68 g weight

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F416

This type of love ring is the fede ring (from the Italian mani in fede, 'hands in faith'. The motif of the clasped hands derives from Roman times when the gesture of clasped right hands (dextrarum iunctio) symbolized marriage. The motif reappeared in the twelfth century. It was popular in both southern and northern Europe, particularly in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the north, the fede tended to be incorporated into the hoop or as the bezel. In Italy, it was positioned at the back of the hoop, with a nielloed bezel The use of the motif can still be seen in the Irish Claddagh ring today.

Taylor & Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 368