Very excited to bring you this story brought to you by Fidra Jewellers, one of my most favorite antique jewelry stores in England which I love to daydream about and hope to visit someday! The shop is located in Brighton. To learn more, read this blog post I wrote in my archives. Thank you Helen for contributing such a fun post:
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If you have a ‘thing’ for rings and you’re ever at a loose end in Oxford, the Ashmolean Museum has a fascinating ‘Finger Ring’ collection which is well worth a view. The Ashmolean is the oldest university museum in the world. It started out in 1683, initially as a building to house the cabinet of curiosities that Elias Ashmole had collected.
The collection of Finger Rings consists of a diverse selection of rings with amazing hand-wrought detail ranging from Pharonic Egypt to Victorian Britain, and what this wonderfully varied collection particularly celebrates is the personal significance that each of the rings had to its wearer.
The wearing of rings has throughout history a meaning which is personal to each piece….
‘Often in history and in legend…a story turns upon the fact that that a ring or jewel is recognised as belonging to someone important…and it is true that rings were known and recognised as powerful symbols and that the passing of a ring from one person to another could have an awesome significance’.’ –Scarisbrook/Henig; Finger Rings.
The stunning collection is housed in a purpose-built octagonal shaped cabinet and the rings are grouped together in types with many early and rare rings including:
- Rings significant for legal and business purposes, denoting power such as intricately carved Roman and Etruscan seal rings.
- Rings marking the key events in the lives of their owners such as marriage and death are instanced in the beautiful Renaissance fede love and marriage rings and the exquisitely enamelled 17th century momento mori rings.
- Papal and other ecclesiastical rings demonstrating the strength of religious faith or authority of the wearer include rings with prayers, Biblical inscriptions and iconography.
- Amulet rings such as the fourteenth century toadstone rings, showing belief in the supernatural power of some gemstones.
It’s a real feast for the eyes….the only frustrating thing about this rich and diverse collection for a jewellery junkie such as myself, is that you can’t pick them up to examine them or even try them on!
The museum is free to visit, however the whole collection can be viewed here:
Or you can buy the book that accompanies the exhibit: