JEWISH MARRIAGE RING
Central or Eastern Europe, 18th century
Height 31.25 mm; exterior diam. of hoop 24.3 mm
Weight 7.10 grams
U.S. size 10.25; U.K. size U
This ring type with a single band of filigree decoration was quite common. The rope-style edging and filigree style is reminiscent of Eastern European filigree jewelry, but it might have been worn in Central Europe. Where these rings were produced and where they were actually in use could differ greatly, due both to the migration of Jews within Europe for political reasons and to the trade among different goldsmith centers. Their dates of production also vary widely, but it is now thought that they are later than previously supposed. The ring is composed of a circular wide band of gold sheet metal with a fine corded wire forming the edging. The inside of the hoop is polished and reveals an inscription in Hebrew letters with the words “Mazal Tov” in abbreviated form. This Hebrew inscription, usually abbreviated and inscribed on many Jewish betrothal or marriage rings, means “lucky star.
Provenance: Melvin Gutman (1886–1967), Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, May 15, 1970, Part V, lot 114, as “Venetian … late 16th century”; Benjamin Zucker, New York; on deposit, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 1985–2013.