Rocking Renaissance Bling
I thought I’d give the Renaissance tradition of wearing as many of my rings as I could a try (Okay, so not all of them are SCA appropriate, but they look darn spiffy). Count ’em: 1..2..3..4..5! Nothing says overindulgence like squeezing 5 rings onto four fingers. Notice how I snuck in that fifth gem on my second knuckle. Wearing rings like this dates back to Roman times and spilled over well into the Renaissance. Wearable wealth was extremely important in a world with modern banking methods. Having a gold ring meant you had a handy bargaining chip to get you out of tough times (Wedding rings weren’t just a pledge of fidelity, but financial insurance as well). The fact that your insurance policy doubled as a flashy fashion statement was a bonus.
I’ve included a few examples of how Renaissance ladies and gentlemen wore their rings below. You’ll notice that there are a variety of rings worn in a variety of ways, including double rings, thumb rings, rings on necklaces, and special gloves with slits to show off the jewels beneath. Each image links to the full version of the portrait, so get clicking!
For more information about rings (and everything else) from the Middle Ages through the Elizabethan era, you can visit the amazing archive at the Medieval and Renaissance Material Culture website (this link leads to straight to more Renaissance rings). This website is sublime and if you haven’t visited it and clicked on every single link inside, you are missing out!
The rings I have aren’t all perfectly historically accurate at first glance, but most are pretty Renaissance in spirit (except for the ruby paste one, which is a Victorian piece I almost never go without!). Here are a few existent examples of the amazing array of ring designs created between 1475 and 1600:
There is such a wide variety of styles to choose from, I sometimes get dizzy! My favorite part of Renaissance Faire season (besides an excuse to buy a new bodice) is getting to empty out my jewelry drawers and wear everything at once! :)