Mystery & Virtue: Rare Masonic Knights Templar Ring
This particularly rare antique example of allegiance to a society is a ring of 18k yellow gold representing the long standing (Free) Mason organization. With symbols draped in mystery and secrecy, real or imagined, this 19th century finger ring stands on its own aesthetics as jewelry and as art.
Its octagonal face is embellished with a dramatic three dimensional garnet cross of the Knights Templar. The cross divides the white enamel matrix into four sections each accented with three rose cut diamond-set teardrops. Symbolism is everything in this jewel. The twelves teardrop shapes may represent the twelve disciples of Christ, with their tears of mourning.
A deep blue black enamel backdrop decorated with a variety of symbols and images traditionally associated with the fellowship covers the shoulders and shank. A sun and crescent moon motif each set with rose cut diamonds (symbol of the universal nature of freemasonry), the compass within a square, the gavel which reflects divesting the heart and conscience of all the vices and superfluities of life, the “G” (for geometry) inside a six pointed star, a pair of cross swords and an axe. For additional information see the "Size" tab or click the bottom link for more information. In addition, please visit the website http://freemasonry.london.museum/ for further information on the history of the order.
Date: First quarter of the 19th century.
Measurements: 3/4 of an inch (1.9 cm) in length north to south on the hand. Cross is 5/8 of an inch (1.7 cm) in width. Weight of 14.4 grams (9.2 dwt).
Ring Size: US 6-1/4 (UK L-1/2; Int. Dia. 16.75; Euro 53 mm; Japan 12). This ring can be sized down using inserts; it cannot be sized up.
Condition: Good; an inner liner is soft soldered to interior; repaired break to very back of ring; some re-enameling to black enamel.
Specific symbols on the Ring: The sun and moon refer to the heavenly lights and the universe and the universal nature of Freemasonry. The cubic stone (square) is a "perfect ashlar" which represents man "polished and made square" by morality and the codes of the order. The "G" inside the star usually refers to the Holy Royal Arch, which is the fourth of the Masonic ceremonies related "to finding the vault in the ruins of the Temple of Solomon".
Crossed Swords may represent "the Red Cross of Babylon". Used by a lodge master and wardens the gavel is another symbol, although sometimes the ax is used as well.
The red cross may certainly be symbolic of the Knights Templar, but also is found in the order of the Knights Benificent of the Holy City or CBCS - Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainté. Again this also is part of the motifs used by the Scottish Rite.
This ring is possibly a mourning ring for one of the highest of the orders.
*We wish to thank Mark Dennis of the Museum of Freemasonry in London for his help in the identification of this ring and its symbolism.
Historical Notes: Freemasonry is a fraternal organization which developed around the later years of the 1500s to the early 1600s. Evidence as to the specific origins and reason for the organization is scarce and often contradictory. Outside of the ever popular conspiratorial, religious and occult associations, it is most likely that Freemasonry was a result of the desire to promote tolerance and to live in a world in which those of differing opinions could peacefully co-exist and work together for the betterment of humanity.
Much like song and dance, allegory and symbolism was the venue in which those ideas and values were communicated and knowledge transferred. The underlying principle of the Freemasons is to build a better society with tolerance for the differences which exist between us all. Consequently they used allegory and symbol from the most common reference material of the day – the Bible and the story of the building of the Temple of King Solomon. Tools of builders and craftsmen became symbols for the organization as their origins stem from those trades.
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