Medieval rings, dating from circa 5th to 15th century AD are so rare that they were predominately reserved for the highest members of society- namely royalty, nobility and high ranking clergymen.
Byzantine rings often display the newly embraced religion of Christianity with images of crosses, saints and Christ.
Viking rings have a very distinct appearance, typically in the form of twisted wire bands. These vary from being simplistic to extremely elaborate and formed from numerous yellow gold wires plaited together.
Bishop’s stirrup rings were a particular style during this time in France and England. The shape of the ring rises to an apex, and so gets its name from the shape of a horse’s stirrup. It is also thought that the shape echoes the ceiling arches within cathedrals, so it is fitting that these rings were often worn by bishops.
‘Fede’ rings, adorned with the image of a pair of clasping hands is another popular motif of this period. These were used as betrothal rings as the joining of hands in a handshake marks the consecration of the marriage ceremony.
Medieval seal rings were a functional piece of jewellery. These were an essential device in business transactions, which permitted the wearer to authorise important documents.
Iconographic rings again have a specific shape, usually with two parallel flat sides reaching to a point, often engraved with images of saints and enhanced with floral or geometric patterns.
Each extraordinary medieval ring offers a fascinating glimpse of a bygone era. We are privileged to be able to offer an impressive collection of these very special and rare jewels which can be prized, enjoyed and worn today.
Medieval amethyst engraved ring, circa 14th-15th century.
Medieval amethyst engraved ring. Set centrally with a crescent shaped amethyst in a closed back rubover setting, to a solitaire design featuring a 'pie-dish' bezel, opaque gallery and closed backholing, leading down to shoulders engraved with an ornate scrolling motif and flowing through to an engraved slim flat shank, approximately 1.8mm in width. Tested yellow gold, circa 14th-15th century.
See Scarisbrick, D., 'Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty', 2007 p. 257-259 for further examples of this type of setting.