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Medieval Magical Silver Gilt Ring

Item 11834

The Greeks and Romans had a tradition of placing magical symbols and letters on rings. Sometimes they were intentionally unintelligible or scrambled. For centuries after jewelry was associated with protection in the form of spells, blessings and charms.

Wearable amulets and textural (word or letters) talismans served many purposes—to cure ill health, to bless the wearer or others, for aches and pains and more. In the middle ages many everyday objects were believed to be infused with such power as the people attributed influence and control in a symbolic manner.

Here is an example of a 14th to 15th century silver gilt ring with such symbolism. It is not unexpected for one of the signs to be a cross, perhaps a cross potent or formée or even the cross of the crusader. The other designs may be symbols and letter set upright and upside down. The ring has been fire gilded with gold over silver, a process by which an amalgam of gold has been applied to the metal and heated.

Measurements: 5/8 of an inch (1.6 cm) north to south on finger by 7/16 of an inch (1.1 cm) in width by 1/8 of an inch (0.3 cm) in height. Band is a little over 1/8 of an inch (0.4 cm) in width. This antique ring has a weight of 5.6 grams (3.7 dwt).

Ring Size: US 10 (UK T-1/2, Euro 19-3/4, 62 mm) and can be easily sized.

Condition: Very good; some of the gold fire gilding is worn and the gold is now most evident in crevices and low points; overall the engraving and detail is still very crisp and sharp; overall light to medium wear.

Date: Circa 14th - 15th century.