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The Art of the Ring: Highlights from The Griffin Collection

The Art of the Ring: Highlights from The Griffin Collection


The distinguished Griffin Collection comprises in its entirety examples of every category of ring – signet, devotional, memorial, decorative – dating from antiquity to modern times. This catalogue focuses on about one hundred special rings, chosen as highlights of this extensive collection with the aim to offer the reader a real history of the art of the ring across the ages.

Covering as they do so many facets of civilization, rings tell us more about the hopes, aspirations, taste and sentiments of our ancestors than any other jewels surviving from the past. Moreover, the examples from the Griffin Collection, which have been assembled with taste and discernment over several decades, are not only rare but also of unusually high quality and intrinsic value. As well as being aesthetically attractive, these rings offer us a glimpse into the lives of their owners, as becomes evident in the vivid account offered by Diana Scarisbrick, one of the world’s leading jewellery historians.

The collection illustrates the many uses of rings—as seals needed for business, in expressing religious belief, political loyalties and personal interests such as theatre going, hunting, classical art and astrology. Some demonstrate high rank and commemorate great historical occasions; others dating from the Middle Ages to Victorian England mark the major events of human existence – love, marriage and death – with rings bearing symbols and inscriptions. Often connected with historical figures, monarchs, notably Charles II and William IV or Isabella Zápolya, Queen of Hungary, but also with popes or artists, such as the Romantic poet Lord Byron. Each ring reveals personal information about the people who wore them and the societies in which they lived. An unusually high proportion of the rings have distinguished later provenance, coming from celebrated collectors: George Spencer 4th Duke of Marlborough, Constantine Ionides, Ernest Guilhou, Ralph Harari and Maurice de Rothschild.

  • By Diana Scarisbrick

    Published by Ad Illisvm

    February 2024

    Hardback, 220 x 220 mm 

    224 pages, 250 colour illus. 

    ISBN: 978-1-915401-06-9

  • About the author

    Diana Scarisbrick is a jewellery historian of exceptional renown, she has published dozens of books on jewellery of all ages, including I like my Choyse: Posy Rings from the Griffin Collection (Ad Ilissvm 2021), Diamond Rings: 700 Years of Glory and Glamour (2019), Portrait Jewels: Opulence and Intimacy from the Medici to the Romanovs (2011) and Rings: Jewellery of Power, Love, and Loyalty (2007; reprint 2014). Recently published is Liber Amicorum in Honour of Diana Scarisbrick, A Life in Jewels (2022).

  • Griffin Collection Series

    This is the second volume in the series on the Griffin Collection. The first, I like my Choyse: Posy Rings from the Griffin Collection was published in 2021.

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