A ring filled to the brim with history and sentiment, Fede Gimmel rings are the perfect jewel to show love and commitment, or collect for their interesting and rich past. The Origin Of A Name
Fede comes from the Italian phrase ‘mani in fede’ meaning ‘hands clasped in trust’. The Fede motif is two clasped hands joined together and is representative of the joining of hands of a couple at a marriage ceremony. This practice dates to Ancient Roman times, the holding of hands and giving of rings being a form of consent to marriage between a couple. It is believed that Fede rings are the earliest examples of the modern-day wedding ring. Gimmel rings are named after the Latin word ‘gemellus’ which means ‘twin’, indicating two interlocking hoops of the ring. Some rings are formed with more than two hoops with some having up to five hoops, these are often also known as puzzle rings. During the Renaissance period a couple set to be married would receive one ring each during their engagement, which would then form to be a completed gimmel ring at the wedding ceremony, connecting by interlocking. Continuing with a closer look at the name, 'Gemellus’ is also a diminutive for the word ‘Geminus’, which relates to where the Zodiac Gemini got its name from, making gimmel rings even more special for people of that star sign! Remember that Gemmellus means 'twin', and the gemini zodiac star sign is represented by a twinned depiction.
Image Source : The British Museum, fede ring; gimmel ring. 16th C- 17th C, 'A gold fede and gimmel ring consisting of two interlocking and twisted hoops with clasped hands forming the bezel. Within the lower hand is a heart and, when the two hoops are joined, the top hand clasps this heart.' During the 16th and 17th centuries motifs such as love hearts were introduced on a third band; the
bride wearing one band, the groom wearing the second and a witness would wear the band adorned with the heart - the witness would often be the person who introduced the couple.
All three bands then being brought together connecting with a pin and worn by the bride. Once the clasped hands parted, three bands are revealed to show the heart hidden inside, much like the image below from a recent acquisition to our shop. It was during this period of time that these rings were also known as 'hand in hand', another name to add to a growing list of ways to describe this style of band- From the V&A ; ' such as the ring left by Johan Broucker to her sister in 1577, described as a 'ringe of golde with an hande in hande'
Image Source : Charlie Luxe Vintage, ' Vintage synthetic ruby fede gimmel ring in 14ct gold'
The Merging Of Two Rings Combining the Fede motif with a gimmel ring makes the ultimate jewel for representing a contract of marriage between two people. They were often customised with engraved quotes, names or included significant gemstones such as birthstones, making the connection between the two wearers even stronger.
Image Source : The V&A, 1800-1850. ' The clasped hands on the bezel of this ring show that it is a fede ring. This type of ring was known in Roman times and has been used in Europe from the medieval period until the nineteenth century. ' As seen in the image above taken from the Victoria and Albert Museum, the rings do not interlock with the use of a pin but rather a twist of wire or twisting of the metal bands themselves.
Interestingly you can see the slow evolution through time in the image above; the fede ring where clasped 'hand -in -hand' to a rather cruder wire wrapped selection 3 at the introduction of a third hidden band, moving on to a much more sophisticated version above further in our own image, where a pin interlocks and secures the three.
Image Source : Charlie Luxe Vintage ' Vintage 14ct gold Fede Gimmel ring with synthetic ruby gemstones' ..................................... While highly collectable as a Fede ring, its this addition of the third band that really makes the Fede-Gimmel so coveted within the jewellery community.
As a community of self confessed jewellery addicts, we are always searching for that rare and hard to find treasure, something unexpected and beautiful.