This fine thirteenth century ring combines a engraved gold hoop with a re-used Roman intaglio of the third century AD. The design of two clasped hands was known in Latin as 'dextrarum iunctio' or 'joined right hands' but nineteenth century collectors called these rings 'fede rings', from the Italian 'mani in fede' or 'hands clasped in trust'. In Roman times, it was a sign of alliance or union and in medieval rings, the symbol is often associated with romantic inscriptions and found on love or marriage rings. Ancient carved gemstones were often re-used in the middle ages to show the erudition of the ring's owner. Roman stones might have been found in the ground as casual finds or preserved and traded through the Eastern Mediterranean and Italian cities.

This ring would have been used as a signet. Personal seals (secreta) provided an essential legal safeguard and were used to witness documents such as wills, deeds of gift, loans and commercial documents, personal letters and land indentures. The ring gains an additional signifcance through the phrases engraved around the bezel and hoop. Alongside the name of the owner, Thomas Roggerri of Suessa, there are religious inscriptions which may have been intended to have an amuletic effect. The phrase 'Et verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis' (And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, John, i, 14), according to a manuscript in the Chapter Library at Canterbury, could also be written on a scrap of parchment and worn as an amulet against paroxysms or fits.


  • Title: Signet ring
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1300/1400
  • Location: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 2.4 cm, Width: 2.6 cm, Depth: 1.9 cm
  • Provenance: Given by Dame Joan Evans
  • Medium: Engraved gold and red jasper

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