Ring

1750-1775 (made)

Unknown

Diameter: 1.9 cm

212-1870 MET

Gold ring, set with emeralds and rose-cut diamonds in silver collets, the bezel in the form of a shell filled with Masonic emblems, the shoulders set with emeralds, made in England, 1725-75.

Gold ring, set with emeralds and rose-cut diamonds in silver collets. The bezel is in the form of a shell filled with Masonic emblems and the shoulders are set with emeralds.

This piece is a rare example of an 18th century Freemason’s ring. It is identified by the tiny Masonic symbols that decorate the bezel: set square, ruler, compasses, level and trowel. These were tools used by stonemasons which Freemasons adopted symbolically. Set with emeralds and diamonds which may refer to Solomon's temple, it must have been made for a wealthy person. Rings set with Masonic symbols are comparatively unusual and do not form part of Masonic regalia. Masonic jewellery mostly comprises star shaped and set square badges, pendants and medals. The first Grand Lodge was established in England in 1717 but Freemason lodges could be found in Germany from the 13th century.

The ring was purchased from C. Schmidt, 13 Arundel Street, London. Freemason's Hall do not know of a C. Schmidt but the 1871 census lists a Constantine Schmidt, antiquarian and archaeologist living at 19 Arundel Street. Freemason jewellery from the 18th century is rare but a comparable ring can be found in the Koch collection (cat. 826) and in the collection of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.

Location: Jewellery, room 91, case 12, shelf B, box 12

View this object on the V&A website