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Jewish marriage ring

16th century

Gold Jewish marriage ring, the wide hoop with raised and rounded edges and the centre divided into three belts, the middle one of vine leaves, grapes and tendrils, the side belts with dots and circles of twisted wire

17.12 mm internal ring diameter; 16 g weight

Guilhou, sale, Sotheby's London, 9 November 1937, lot 668a.

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F291

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. 17.2