hand in hand
Museal collection of antique fede rings, 17th to 19th century
The fede ring - Italian from "mani in fede", hands in faith - was already known in ancient Rome. Over the centuries, the motif was taken up again and again. The hands were symbolic of a deep connection marked by fidelity, so that the rings were used as engagement, marriage or friendship rings. The collection of historical fede rings presented here, which we were able to find collected in the antique box, illustrates the range of these designs from the 17th to the 19th century. The majority of the rings show the fede motif in gold, as part of the ring band - one ring even has a triple, encircling the ring band. There are exceptions, however: One 18th-century ring shows the hands cut into a turquoise-blue glass stone, flanked on the left and right by flowers, possibly meant to represent forget-me-nots. Another ring holds between the hands a plaque with the initials of the beloved person, "MN", another example an amethyst - a stone which, according to legend, was already worn by St. Valentine and can symbolize deep love and loyalty (cf. Welsh, The Language, Sentiment, and Poetry of Precious Stones, 1912). The romantic motif of attachment is also clearly illustrated by another ring of the years around 1850, whose showpiece consists of interlocked hands in plastic gold, but whose splint is braided from brunette hair - the hair of the person to whom the wearer felt attached. Two rings additionally transfer the motif of connectedness into their design: they are conceived as a "gimmel ring", i.e. the rail divides into several narrow hoops, which are, however, inseparable and only together make up the ring. A particularly beautiful example additionally illustrates the use of the Fede symbol as a friendship gift in the age of Empfindsamkeit (sensitivity): it is a ring from the Goethe period which shows a glass cabochon between curved ring shoulders. A so-called "reverse intaglio" is cut into the back of the cabochon, which is heightened in gold and shows interlocking hands with the word AMITIE, French for friendship. Friendship. One of the rings is not a classical fede ring, but a related type: It is an Irish Fenian Claddagh ring or Dublin Claddagh ring, which holds a heart between the two hands. Depending on which hand and in which direction such a ring is worn, it indicates the romantic status of a person: Whether they are in a romantic relationship, married or looking for a partner. Very few of the rings bear hallmarks. Only one ring bears historical gold hallmarks from the old goldsmiths' centre in Schwäbisch Gmünd, the presumably youngest ring shows a German or Austrian gold hallmark from around 1900.
We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.
You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.
Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.
We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.
If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.