Love cede " (she has yielded)
Fig. 7. A French eighteenth century love ring of gold, set with four crystals, surrounded by diamonds and divided by four panels of blue enamel. The letters represent the phrase " Elle a brak a saxpence, so I hae just changed it into twa threepenny bits. Ye tak' th' ane, lassie, an' I'll keep th' ither."
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the love ring was very much in evidence. There was an indefinable element in the atmosphere of those picturesque periods which seemed to foster the growth and expression of sentiment. Life was more leisurely, and a stately courtesy lent charm as well as dignity to social intercourse, while all philosophy was tinged with poetry. Men did not disdain to wear a ring fashioned in the style of a true-lovers' knot; and among the treasures of the Earl of Northampton who died in 1614 was " a golde ringe sett with fifteene diamondes in a true-lovers' knotte, with the wordes Nec aslu, nee ense"-without guile and without force (Fig. 5).
But a sweet simplicity was not altogether characteristic of the love rings of the eighteenth century. In point of design they erred on the side of being too ornate and cumbersome. Take, for example, the ring illustrated in Fig. 6. So wide is the bezel that it would cover two fingers of an ordinary hand. Set against a background of deep blue enamel, the shepherd's hat, pipe, and crook, and the floral embellishments, depicted in seed pearls, stand out with striking yet crude effect, the ribbon and rosettes, represented by rubies, offering a welcome relief. It was the age of Watteau and of Dresden china shepherds and shepherdesses, but there is little of Arcadian simplicity in this design-little to suggest the appositeness of the line, " Phyllis is my only joy."
Much more pleasing, by reason of the wit and artistic merit which it displays, is the ring shown in Fig. 7. It is a French love ring of gold, set with four crystals, surrounded by diamonds and divided by four panels of deep blue enamel, inscribed, " Amour veille sur elle." On the crystals are the letters l a c d, a phonetic and rather witty rendering of "Elle a cede." It is a characteristic example of the dainty lightness of a Frenchman's fancy.
Flower-sprav ring, of gold
Fig. 8. Giardinetti, or and small diamonds
Fig. 9. A beautiful Giar-dinetti ring of the eighteenth century, repre-senting a basket of flowers in gems and gold
The Giardinetti rings, so delicately constructed and with such a delightful play of colour flashing from the variously hued gems, must have been a welcome relief from, as they are a welcome contrast to, the almost Brobdingnagian productions which they superseded. And this tendency towards a more restrained display is further illustrated in such dainty rings as are shown in Figs. 10 and 11. Both are distinguished by a touch of humour. In the one we have a gold grating over the window of a miniature cell wherein is imprisoned a ruby heart; in the other, a white enamel Cupid is depicted in the act of flying off with a heart, for which a ruby again does duty, while the slender hoop is inscribed, "Stop thief !"
The harlequin and regard rings, such as are shown in Figs 12 and 13, acquire an added interest from the fact that jewellers are trying to re-introduce these styles, which, though widely different in sentiment, share in common the merit-if merit it be-of a rich and varied display of gems. The former, as the name indicates, represent, in a manner, the motley garb of the genius of pantomime. The latter possess a more poetic purpose, the initial letters of the various gems rendering the name of the fair recipient. Thus, a pearl, an emerald, an amethyst, a ruby, and a lapis-lazuli give, as in the ring here sketched, the name Pearl. In connection with these regard rings, it is interesting to recall the fact that our late King Edward VII. shortly after his marriage presented Queen Alexandra with " un gage d'amour," as the French happily style these dainty ornaments, with his name, Bertie, represented by a beryl, an emerald, a ruby, a turquoise, and an emerald.
It is a thousand pities that so graceful and charming a custom was ever allowed to drop out of fashion, and one cannot but welcome the attempt to restore it to favour. There is a delightfully delicate element of sentiment in lovers' gifts, and as such gifts, rings indeed are ideal, for surely the recipient of such a gift will be the better able to realise the truth of Charles Lamb's witty remark, that "Presents endear absents."
Fig. II. A cupid in white enamel flying off with a ruby heart. The circlet is inscribed "Stop Thief 1 " An example of eighteenth century work in gold, set with rubies,
Fig. 12. A harlequin ring emeralds, sapphires, pearls, and small diamonds
Fig. 13. An elaborate eighteenth century " Regard" ring, in which the name "Pearl" is denoted by the jewels set therein, a pearl, emerald, amethyst, ruby and lapis-lazuli