With over 5 years in the jewellery industry, and a long-standing passion for all things historic, working with the collection at Berganza as one of the antique and vintage jewellery specialists has been an incredible experience, and an immense privilege. With a degree in Art History with Museum Studies, I was immediately drawn to the ancient and early rings, especially as, like many people, I didn’t realise these pieces could be owned, or even seen, outside of a museum setting!
Whilst we obtain new pieces on a daily basis, early rings are most rare to find, and it is always an exciting moment when we acquire one! I would have to say that one of my favourite pieces in the collection is our Tudor diamond solitaire, featuring a Latin posy to the interior ‘SUM.SINGNUM.AMORIS +’, which translates to ‘I am a token of love’ (ref: 26421).
Whilst all jewellery tells a story, I find it incredible to imagine the life this ring, and others in our early collection, must have led. Handcrafted over 500 years ago during the rule of the Tudors, this was a time when fine jewellery was only attainable by the upper nobility, and royalty. As such, it is very possible that many of these pieces would have been worn at court, tangible witnesses to historic events which we have only read about in books.
This particular ring showcases one of the earliest ways of fashioning a diamond. Following the octahedral shape of the rough diamond crystal, it comes to a perfect point, and whilst this is not technically a cut, as the shape of the diamond remains largely unaltered, these diamonds are today known as ‘point cuts’. Extremely rare to come by, they were often re-cut over the centuries as other diamond cuts were developed, making the survival of this piece a true rarity!
This is likely one of the earliest examples of a diamond set betrothal ring, but it is the addition of the posy to the interior which turns this ring from a symbol of marriage, to perhaps something more intriguing! Enscribed in Latin, the language of the nobility, this posy translates to ‘I am a token of love.’ At a time when the majority of marriages between those in the upper echelons of society were marriages of convenience or alliance, this posy suggests that maybe this was a rare example of a love match!
Or indeed, perhaps this ring symbolised an illicit romance between two members of the nobility. The posy to the interior having the dual purpose of concealing a secret message that would be known only to the giver and the wearer, and it was also said that when worn against the skin, it made the message even more poignant!
Whatever the truth may be, this astonishing ring certainly has the most extraordinary tale to tell!
If you would like to explore our collection of early rings further, you are most welcome to visit our showroom, or view our entire collection online. We offer complimentary and fully insured shipping worldwide. Should you find the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone, we would be delighted to gift-wrap it, and include a personalised note, all ready to under the tree!