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The History of Posy Rings

What is a Posy Ring?

Posy rings were originally designed to be a gift shared between lovers. Typically crafted in yellow gold, posy rings feature a short inscription on their surface, normally intended as an expression of love. A posy ring’s message can either be inscribed on the outer surface or the interior of the ring, either adding to the design or keeping the message secret and for only for the eyes of the wearer themselves. Posy rings can either be crafted simply in gold, or set with gemstones or diamonds, like this posy-style diamond engagement ring.

Today, many couples choose to add a meaningful inscription to their wedding bands, such as their initials or the date of the wedding. However, the tradition of inscribing posy rings stretches back far into the past.

A Posy Rings History

This jewellery design style was particularly popular from the 15th to the 17th century, and posy rings beloved both in England and France. The name ‘posy’ (also spelled poise or posey) derives from the French word ‘poésie’, meaning ‘poem’. This name is perfectly fitting and refers to the short inscription featured on posy rings that could either consist of a short poem, a Latin mantra, or a religious message.

Posy Rings History

As religion was such a prominent part of society during the late Middle Ages, religious texts or images of saints were frequent on posy rings. Most often, posy rings doubled up both as a symbol of religious devotion and a show of love.

Antique posy rings often also feature further engravings in addition to the inscription. Examples from the 17th century frequently featured engraved plants and animals on their outer surface, with the inscription being kept secret on the ring’s interior.

One of the traditional appeals of the posy ring was that each item was unique and personal to the wearer. However, many jewellers would offer a list of popular phrases and sayings from which clients could choose, meaning that, today, we often see the same phrases turn up on multiple rings.

The unique draw of the posy ring has certainly withstood the test of time, and this style is still considered deeply romantic today. Couples still frequently choose this style for their wedding bands, as these rings are guaranteed to feel romantic and special to the wearers.

Posy Ring

What Are Posy Ring Inscriptions?

The inscriptions on posy rings vary from piece to piece and, as each inscription is personal, the options are unlimited. Religious texts are a commonly found example of posy ring inscriptions. For example, "Let the Lord above send peace & love” and "As gold is pure, so love is sure” However, the most common themes of posy ring inscriptions are love, devotion, and romance, such as these sayings: "Love is my joy”, "Love is the bond of peace”, and "My heart is thine”.

What Do Posy Rings Symbolise?

As the inscriptions vary so much, a posy ring can symbolise anything. Whatever message you want to convey when gifting a posy ring is sure to be hinted at in the inscription itself. The most common meanings of posy rings are commitment and love, hence why these rings are often chosen as wedding rings and engagement rings today.

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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