Gimmel ring

A gimmel ring consists of two or more hoops that when closed form one band on the finger. When removed, the hoops unfold to reveal hidden inscriptions.

In the Renaissance, the gimmel ring was combined with the ‘fede’ motif, in which two hands clasp to form the bezel.

In this gimmel ring, the diamond symbolises constancy and the clasped hands fidelity. The inscription relates to the marriage ceremony.

Gimmel ring

 

magnify image
Gimmel ring

Germany, about 1600-50
Gold with enamel and diamond
Given by Dame Joan Evans
V&A: M.224-1975

Maria Kitscher, Fau von Freyberg

 

This wealthy German woman wears a gimmel ring on the first finger of her left hand.

German portraiture of this period includes a very clear and detailed representation of jewellery. Often sitters wear many fashionable jewels at once as a sign of status and wealth. In real life it would have been unusual to wear so many rings.

magnify image
Maria Kitscher, Fau von Freyberg

By Hans Mielich
Germany, 1545
Oil on panel

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

 

An emblem is a combination of images and text used to convey a complex message. In the past, artists and designers often took emblems from the collections found in books.

The symbols on the gimmel ring can be seen in this emblem. It illustrates multi-layered messages about love and fidelity. An inscription elsewhere on the page reads, ‘That’s friendship and true-love indeed, which for me, abides, in time of need’.

Emblems of love and fidelity

 

magnify image
Emblems of love and fidelity

Plate from Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne
By George Wither
England, 1635

National Art Library, V&A, L.1681-1990