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Romance of the ring. March 23, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. At the Morning Glory Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, I fell in love with a bracelet, and bless his heart, our friend Ben was kind enough to buy it for me. It’s by Sergio Lub and has an intricate pattern of matte braided silver, copper and brass. I thought it was exquisite; see for yourself at Sergio’s website, http://www.sergiolub.com/. (It’s the Quilt Magnetic Brushed bracelet.)

The bracelet looks just gorgeous on my wrist, but once we returned to our home in scenic PA, I realized I had a problem. The combination of silver, copper and brass plus the matte/brushed finish was challenging to match in a ring. I’d assumed I could simply wear one of my two copper rings, but their Native American design and finish clashed badly with the bracelet. What to do?!

Fortunately, help was close at hand, and in the form of a ring I want to tell you about, a ring with an old and very romantic past. My beloved mama bought it for me at an antiques store years ago. It is silver and copper, and its age has given it a “brushed” finish that goes perfectly with my new bracelet. But this ring has much more than looks going for it. When it was new, wearing it was a matter of life and death.

You see, this is a Jacobite ring, made for those Scottish Highlanders who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie against the Hanoverian usurpers after James II (Jacobus in Latin, thus the Jacobite Rebellion) was thrown off the throne of England in 1688 because he was Catholic. From that time until the Jacobites’ crushing defeat at Culloden Field in 1746, the Highland Scots and their French allies (James, Charlie, and the rest of the family had fled to France after he was deposed) attempted to restore the Stuarts to the British throne. Sometime between 1688 and 1746, this ring, and others like it, were made to help the Stuart sympathizers recognize each other.

The ring, worn one way, is an unobtrusive heavy silver band. (And yes, back in the day it was certainly a man’s ring.) But turn it over, and there is the fleur-de-lis of France wrought in copper, showing support for the “King over the Water.” If discovered by the wrong (and ruling) party, wearing this ring would cost a man his lands, his status, and his life. But raising a hand in greeting to a fellow sympathizer would reveal the fleur-de-lis and with it, the promise that, as Sherlock Holmes would say, “the game was afoot.”

History tells us that Bonnie Prince Charlie was forced to flee the field at Culloden and return to France to end his life in exile, and that his followers were brutally punished, to such an extreme that wearing a Highland clan kilt was a crime until the rule of Queen Victoria, who seemed to have a soft spot for all things Scottish. It’s amazing that any of the Jacobite rings survived. I wear mine with the fleur-de-lis up on proud display. It’s perfect with my new bracelet, history and artistry coming together.

             ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

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