jewish marriage ring

An important and striking Jewish-marriage ring. Of large size with a broad gold band. Little gold flowers embellish the ornamental filigree bosses. These are surrounded by loops of twisted gold wire (one is missing). Twisted wires outline the edges. Decorated with white and blue enamel. A hinged, blue enamel, gable roof with a hinged opening, forms the top. Central or Eastern Europe, circa 18th century.

weight: 16.1 grams

The Jewish custom of giving a marriage-ring goes back to the first half of the fourteenth century. As gemstones were not allowed, many have colourful enamelled decorations. These ceremonial and talismanic rings were used only for the wedding ceremony. This one is certainly not practical to wear. Characteristic of Jewish marriage-rings is the iconographic feature of an architectural bezel, at times with a complete house on it that symbolises the bride and groom’s future home or the Temple of Jerusalem. Jewish marriage-rings sometimes even bear the inscription ‘Mazal Tov’ in Hebrew (good luck) on the base of the gable roof.

Literature: British Museum, London (from the Waddesdon Bequest and Rothschild Collection, Tait 1986, no. 51; Alice and Louis Koch Collection (Chadour, vol. II, nos. 1076 – 1078 with a full account of the possible Transylvanian origin of these rings).

PeriodEarly jewellery

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