Wedding rings

Germany and Italy, 16th-17th centuries

Gold and enamel

Gift in memory of Baroness Liliane de Rothschild; on permanent loan from the Musée de Cluny-Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris

Rothschild donation, Strauss collection

Wedding rings, Germany and Italy, 16th - 17th centuries

Wedding rings, Germany and Italy, 16th - 17th centuries

“With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” Reciting this time-honoured phrase, the groom puts a ring on the bride’s finger in the presence of two witnesses and the assembly. The couple, standing beneath the wedding canopy (chuppah) symbolising the home they will build together, listen to the reading of the marriage contract (ketubbah), written in Aramaic and often calligraphed and decorated. The rabbi then recites the seven blessings (Sheva Brachot) consecrating the couple’s union before God and the Assembly of Israel, after which the groom breaks a glass in memory of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. This ceremony can take place outdoors, in a private house or in the synagogue.

These intricately crafted gold rings, decorated with ornamental openwork, pearls and enamel, often bear the Hebrew inscription “mazal tov” (good fortune) on the inside or outside to bring good luck to the couple. On some rings, the bezel is in the form of a house representing the new home. These very ornate ceremonial rings were created especially for the wedding ceremony and usually lent to the bride by the community.

These wedding rings were collected in the mid-19th century by the composer and orchestra conductor Isaac Strauss (1806-1888), the first collector of Judaica in Europe. They were acquired in 1890 by Charlotte de Rothschild, who donated them to the Musée de Cluny.

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