Posted on October 25, 2014 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
Macabre Jewelry: Modern Poison Rings by Wendy Brandes
Believed to have originated in the far East or India, poison rings became popular in Europe in the 16th century. Poison rings open like a locket, and deadly powders could be stored under a bezel setting or in the bezel setting itself. This macabre accessory was used to sneak poison into an enemy’s food or drink—or, in the event of capture or torture, the wearer could kill herself with the contents of her ring. Alternatively, locket rings could house perfume, locks of hair, devotional relics, or messages (written on very tiny paper!).
Contemporary jeweler Wendy Brandes has created a collection of modern, stunning (albeit darkly themed) poison rings inspired by famous poisoners. At once glamorous and chilling, these pieces allow their wearer a taste (metaphorically, that is) of old European drama and intrigue.
Livia, Empress of Rome
The 18K gold Livia Poison ring was inspired by Livia, Empress of Rome. According to false rumor, she killed her husband with poisoned figs. Satin-finished yellow gold; aquamarine stone.
Catherine de Medici
Catherine de Medici was the wife of Henri II of France and the mother-in-law of Mary Queen of Scots. Catherine was one of the most powerful women in 16th-century Europe. She’s also famed for murdering a rival with poisoned gloves (right before the victim's wedding!). 18k polished yellow gold; tiny diamonds galore.
Anglo-Saxon queen Edburga was a notorious poisoner of her husband's enemies. When she accidentally poisoned her husband, she fled town and ended up in Charlemagne’s court. Smitten with Edburga, Charlemagne gave her the choice of marrying himself or his son. After choosing his son (oops! bad idea!), Charlemagne replied: "Had you chosen me, you would have had both of us. But, since you chose him, you shall have neither." Edburga was sent to serve as abbess of a convent until a forbidden tryst led to her exile. She died a beggar.
Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold bezel; Rose quartz, diamond
Photos: Wendy Brandes Fine Jewelry, Wikipedia