In an age when science, religion and medicine were closely connected, jewellery often served spiritual and amuletic purposes. The rectangular bezel of this gold ring is engraved with a merchant's mark, an ownership mark used by traders on their goods but also as a seal and family mark and the name 'Galgano D'Cicho', presumably the name of the ring's first owner. The hoop of the ring is engraved with a Biblical inscription which can be found on other Renaissance rings. It was taken from the Gospel of St Luke and would give protection for a traveller against thieves or robbers. An early 18th century book on magic by Albertus Parvus also gave instructions on how to make a ring engraved with this verse which would make the wearer invisible.
This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-81). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.