Antique Posy Rings

Inscribed with a message posy rings are tokens of love


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Antique Posy Rings

Examples of early posy rings, betrothal rings or ‘love' rings encompass rings displaying the fede motif (featuring clasped hands) which is symbolic of the marriage ceremony; these were first seen in the ancient world and saw a renewed interest in the medieval period. Tudor early diamond set betrothal rings are rarely seen nowadays, exquisite in design, they would have been reserved solely for the highest members of society. The cut of diamond seen in early ‘solitaire' designs is very different to later fashions.

Posy rings were especially popular during the period of the 16th-18th centuries in England and France, and can be recognised through the short inscription. The name posy rings derives from the French word for poem, referring to the inscription on either the interior or exterior of the ring. Posy rings were used as lover’s tokens, betrothal or wedding rings and are the inspiration for modern wedding bands. The rarest posy rings have engravings on the exterior, which are usually very ornate floral decorations. 

Berganza has amassed one of the largest collections of unusual posy rings in the world. Today these special and rare rings are highly sought after and very collectible.

Originating from the French word 'poésy', which translates to mean short poem or motto, the ‘posy ring’ was born into existence. Wearing these bands with short inscriptions inside became popular in the Medieval Period onwards, spanning from circa 1300s -1900s. These rings were worn as either religious talismans, gifted as friendship rings, or given as tokens of love.

The inscribed hidden poems varied depending on who the receiver was, and the message the giver wanted to relay. It was said that if the words were worn against the skin it made the message even more poignant. These phrases were often written in Old French, Old English, or Latin in a curved, capital lettering called Lombardic. This cursive changed after circa 1350 to a black, Gothic script, thereafter leading to italic script later.

The supply and demand for posy rings at this time meant only a certain number of poems could be thought up in such a small space, so the craftsman had a stocklist of said 'poésy' inscriptions to hand, such as ‘Be true in hart, till death depart’ and ‘God above, send peace and love’. The rarest known posy rings were, in fact, not written but drawn on the inside of the band. For example, an eye, a heart or even a skull would be used to represent a word, and these were sometimes enamelled, as we all know a picture is worth a thousand words…!

Posy rings predate wedding bands, but the sentimental value of having a unique, hidden secret message gifted by your sweetheart is a known concept right up to today, and antique posy rings are often chosen as wedding bands.

FAQs


Posy rings are gold rings with an inscription on the interior or exterior of the ring in French, Latin or English as these were thought of as words of love. This style of ring was particularly popular during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in France and England. They were a precursor to the modern wedding band, as they were gifted to lovers during the height of their popularity.

The inscriptions on vintage and antique posy rings were usually personal messages from one lover to another in French, Latin or English and often accompanied by floral decorations and ornate details. Perhaps this would be words from a favourite poem or something more intimate, to show their loved one how much they loved them. The unique inscriptions were an opportunity for the giver of the ring to present something unique and meaningful to their lover. which would last a lifetime.

Posy rings first and foremost symbolised love, as they were a symbol of devotion. Vintage and antique posy rings are a popular choice for wedding bands today, as there is something special about knowing this ring had been gifted to someone in the past with loving intent.

Authentic antique and vintage posy rings vary in cost quite significantly, with some costing as little as £500 and others costing upwards of £50,000.



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Updated 28/05/2024 at 1:51PM

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