Betrothal ring – Love ring – Fede ring – Posy ring – Gimmel ring – Puzzle ring

Betrothal ring - Love ring - Fede ring - Posy ring - Gimmel ring - Puzzle ring

Betrothal ring

A type of finger ring of no generally standardized form that is given by a man to his fiancee as a token of betrothal, usually called today an engagement ring.

Such rings have been used since Roman times (called anulus pronubus (Latin), the finger ring used by the Romans as a betrothal ring, it was given by the man as a pledge to his betrothed), when they were originally made of iron (a gold ring was generally forbidden) and without any gemstone.

But later gold rings were so used, bearing appropriate amatory inscriptions, as well as motifs such as a lover’s-knot (see Lover’s-knot ring) or clasped hands (see Fede ring) and set with gemstones.

When more significance became attached to a betrothal, the ring became known as an engagement ring and it was also used as a wedding ring, without any special change in form or style. Other forms of finger rings may have been used a betrothal ring, e.g. Gimmel (or gimmal) ring and Puzzle ring.

Lover’s-knot ring

Lover’s-knot ring

A type of finger ring, often worn as a betrothal ring or an engagement ring, but sometimes merely as a token of affection, having the bezel made from twisted wire so as to form a complicated tour loop knot. Such rings were used from Roman times to the medieval period.

Betrothal ring Love ring Fede ring Gimmel ring Puzzle ring

Love ring

A type of finger ring worn to evidence a sentimental attachment, including the Fede ring and the Posy ring. Before the use of the posy ring, some rings were so worn engraved with a simple inscription or merely an appropriate symbol.

Fede ring

Fede ring

(from Italian, fede, trust).
A type of finger ring, often worn a betrothal ring or an engagement ring, but sometimes merely as a token of affection, having as decoration an engraved pair of clasped right hands or two such hands moulded to form the bezel.
They were usually made of silver (some of gold). On some examples from the 15th century the hands are at the back of the ring, and the bezel is ornamented, sometimes with a gemstone or a woman’s head or a heart.

Occasionally the fede ring was made in the form of a Gimmel ring, with the hands on separate hoops and made to link together; these were sometimes separated so that each of an engaged couple could wear half until the marriage.

Fede rings were used from Roman days, and were popular throughout Europe from the 12th until the 18th century. Some have an inscription (usually amatory, but sometimes religious or magical) around the hoops. The term ‘fede’ is said to have been introduced by 19th-century ring collectors from the Italian mani in fede (hands in trust). Links in the form of clasped hands were used in marriage chains of the 16th century.

Posy ring

Posy ring

A type of finger ring that is engraved with a posy (a brief naive sentimental expression, the word being contracted from ‘poesy’ or ‘poetry’; before the 15th century, called a ‘reson’). The amatory inscription (often rhymed) was usually (and especially after the 16th century) hidden on the inside of the hoop, but sometimes was on the exterior, sometimes on both sides. The language of the inscriptions was usually Norman French, and the dating of the rings is generally determined by the script.

Such inscriptions are also found on some signet ring. The rings were usually, from the 17th century, an engagement ring or a wedding ring, but some of the inscriptions are ambiguous as to the use.
Rings inscribed with a version of a posy were worn in Classical times, but their use ceased during the Dark Ages until they were revived with the rise of chivalry in the age of feudalism. They were principally worn in England from the 14th century (a few are French) until they were mass produced and went out of fashion in the 18th century.

The engraving of sentimental inscriptions on the inside of a wedding ring has been somewhat revived in modern times.

Gimmel ring

Gimmel (or gimmal) ring

A type of finger ring that is composed of 2 (sometimes 3) separate hoops linked together, having the same shank split lengthwise so that the hoops can be fitted together unnoticeably as one hoop. The bezel is also split so that when joined it forms one ornament; it is sometimes decorated with clasped hands (Fede ring) or a heart-shaped ornament. Such rings were worn as an engagement ring or a wedding ring, appropriately engraved on the facing sides of the hoops.

Gimmel rings were made of gold or silver, sometimes with niello decoration or set with a gemstone. They were made in the mid-15th century. The hoops could be separated only by cutting one of them, but they were sometimes separated and worn in this way until rejoined by a goldsmith following the marriage.

Gemel ring is the same as gimmel ring. The term ‘gimmel’ being generally applied today by writers and jewelers (bur not dictionaries) to a twin finger ring. The word ‘gimmal’ is, according to the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’, an ‘altered form’ of ‘gemel’ which is derived from the Latin ‘gemellus’, the diminutive of ‘geminus’, twin (just as the name of the zodiacal sign Gemini is derived from ‘geminus’).
Hence ‘gemel’ would appear to be historically and etymologically the correct term, but as ‘gimmel’ has the sanction of widespread usage, it must now be accepted to designate finger rings of this type (as it is for other appliances made of two joined rings).

Puzzle wedding ring

Puzzle ring

A type of finger ring that is composed of three or up to seven interlocking hoops which form a single hoop when assembled, but when disassembled are very difficult to restore to the original form. Usually there are small bulges along the hoops that further complicate fitting the sections together.

In the 17th century some were made as a signet ring with a seal in the bezel, and some were used as a love ring, like a Gimmel ring. They were popular, and still are in Turkey. Some were set with gemstones, but those made today are usually inexpensive novelties.