The Gemmel, Or Gemmow, rings were frequently double or even triply made, the word "Gemmel" denoting jointed hinges, or jimmers. At the time of the betrothal the parties concerned broke away the upper and lower rings over an open Bible, each wearing the respective ring severed (the third ring being held by the witness of their betrothal) until the marriage took place, when the rings were reunited and became the Wedding Ring. It was considered most unlucky for a ring to hurt its wearer, or fall to the ground during the betrothal or marriage, and it is said to be a curious fact that when this has happened the incident has been followed by disappointment or misfortune to one or both of the persons concerned.
The Ancients had great faith in Zodiacal Rings, in the construction of which the aspects and positions of the planets were of the utmost importance. They were worn for the gift of eloquence and were in great favour with lawyers, poets, and orators, being worn on the fourth finger (Mercury ruling speech and the tongue).
These Zodiacal rings, engraved with the representation of the twelve signs of the Zodiac in their order, are aptly described in the following rhyme, for which we are indebted to the Rev. C. W. King's book, The Natural History of Precious Stones and Gems, although it is not from that author's pen, but merely quoted by him:
"Hear how each sign the body's portion sways, How every part its proper lord obeys And what the members of the human frame Wherein to rule, their several forces claim. First to the Ram, the Head hath been assigned; Lord of the sinews, Neck, the Bull we find ; The arms and shoulders joined in union fair Possess the Twins, each one an equal share. The Crab, as sovereign o'er the Breast presides; The Lion, the shoulder blades and sides. Down to the flank, ' the Virgin's' lot descends, And with the buttock Libra's influence ends; The fiery Scorpion in the groin delights, The Centaur in the thighs exerts his rights, While either knee doth Capricornus rule, The legs the province of Aquarius cool; Last, the twain Fishes as their region meet, Hold jurisdiction on the pairs of feet".
An historic Talisman of Oriental origin which was famous during the fourteenth century, is the Lee Penny, which is described as a small red stone of triangular or heart shape, and of unknown origin, set in a groat of Edward IV.
According to tradition, it was brought from the Holy Land by Sir Simon Locard of Lee, who accompanied Sir James Douglas to Palestine bearing the heart of Robert Bruce enclosed in a golden casket, and, for his services in connection with this, was given the name of Lockhart, and for armorial bearings, a lock and a heart. Fighting in the Holy Land, Sir Simon captured a Saracen Emir whom he held to ransom. The Emir's lady willingly paid the ransom; but while handing out a goodly supply of golden bezants, she dropped a small jewel. So marked was her anxiety to recover it, that the canny Sir Simon, with a true Caledonian instinct for a bargain, conjectured the apparently valueless stone must be a potent Talisman. Consequently he refused to set his prisoner at liberty unless the stone was included in the ransom.
Amongst its many merits it cures hydrophobia, takes away disease from horned cattle, and counteracts the poison of infectious complaints if it is soaked in water and the water is used as a cordial.
For its use during an epidemic of the plague Newcastle is reputed to have granted a bond of £6000 for its safe return.
Another Scottish Talisman is a Crystal set in silver, which is worn hung round the back for diseases of the kidneys; it is also directed to be steeped in water seven times, the water to be drunk by the patient.
Gold Nuggets are considered lucky charms for speculators in mines, and miners; and Leap Year Pennies should always be kept in the kitchen to bring unexpected windfalls to the house.
To card players the Deuce of Clubs is said to be the Talisman of the pack, and is generally the sign of four or five trumps in the dealer's hand; whilst the Four of Clubs is the most unlucky card, the holder of it seldom if ever winning the game; in old writings this card is known as "the devil's bedstead".
A Badger's Tooth sewn inside the right-hand pocket of the waistcoat is also a well-known Talisman for luck at cards.
The Four-Leaved Clover is another well-known charm for good luck, generally, for - "One leaf is for fame, And one leaf is for wealth And one for a faithful lover, And one to bring you glorious health Are all in the four-leaved clover".