Gimmel Fede Ring
Romance and love are conveyed to the fullest in this sumptuous ring composed of symbolically rich elements: Fede hands, connected bands, and a pairing of pearls and turquoise.
The gold ring is composed of three connecting hoops attached by a hinge. The central hoop bears a cross made of gold sheet, revealed when the outer hoops with hands are opened. Soldered onto the outer hoops are two clasped right hands which, when closed, form a mani in fede motif. One hand with engraved surface may indicate a glove. Both have a collet-set turquoise cabochon on the “cuff” of the glove. The hands are surrounded by cannetille spirals as well as pearls and turquoise embedded within crown-like collets. On the hoop a ram’s head (French guarantee mark for gold in use from 1819-1838). The ring is in good wearable condition.
Each element of this ring expresses love, affection, and the union of marriage. The clasped hands – or mani in fede, Italian for hands in faith – is a motif which goes back to the Roman ritual of the joining of the right hands during the betrothal ceremony known as dextrarum iunctio. The right hand was considered sacred to Fides, the goddess of trust and good faith. Clasped hands as a symbol of love and marriage continued in both the ceremony and rings through the centuries, even until today. See: Chadour-Sampson/Hindman 2016, nos. 20-1, for gimmel fede rings, and about the ritual Chadour-Sampson, Beatriz. The Power of Love, Jewels, Romance, Eternity, Unicorn, London, pp. 15 ff.
The connected hoops, known as gimmel (Latin gemmelus for twin), here three instead of two, deepen the symbolism of the ring with its circular form, without beginning or end. The turquoise has been a stone of friendship since the Renaissance and pearls symbolize purity, chastity, and innocence. Additionally, many European cultures have associated pearls specifically with marriage. The spirals, known as cannetille, are typical of the 1820s and 1830s, and these were often combined with granules called grainti. The design appears as if the jewel is solid and heavy, but this filigree technique requires less gold. The style began in France and then spread throughout Europe, see: Phillips, Clare. Jewels and Jewellery, Victoria and Albert Museum and Thames & Hudson, London, 2019, pp. 84-5 and for related ring types in this technique, cf. Chadour 19914, vol. nos. 1391, 1489, 1898.
For the fede motif, see: Chadour-Sampson, Beatriz. The Power of Love, Jewels, Romance, Eternity, Unicorn, London.