Rings 25.03.2013

“Hearts United Live Contented” 17th Century Posie Ring

17th Century Posy Ring

‘Hearts United Live Contented’ is a sentiment that resonates through posie rings and sentimental jewels from the early modern period well into today. Its use as a statement of love and union between two people is a clear one that has been adapted through changes in art and culture due to its intrinsic message of love between two people.

From what we’ve seen of posie rings, particularly in ‘Posie Rings From the 17th Century‘ and ‘Let vertue bee a guide‘, the message of the posie ring was bespoke and taken from copybooks and phrases popular at the time. The use of language in early modern times tends to be English, rather than the previous Latin/French/Norman French and is as personal as being a phonetic sentiment of love in a ring, to a phrase which identifies the nature of the relationship between two people. Either way, the message is a personal one and its gravity is the underpinning of what two people felt.

17th Century Posy Ring

This ring has counterparts seen in the British Museum and elsewhere, but what is more fascinating is seeing the message pass down through history, particularly in the latter 18th century, when the nature of the ‘self’ through Romantic allegorical depictions in the Neoclassical era provided a visual representation of the Enlightenment.

Suggestions of the ecclesiastical follow this sentiment of two hearts united under god, yet during a time when the focus of love was becoming an entity that represented itself with the ‘heart’ motif, the giving of a jewel in the shape of the heart was unifying people through its symbol. From this, the ‘Georgian Heart’ motif that was popular through the 18th and early 19th centuries cemented the symbol through its romantic connotations in a shape that we recognise today. Look to the following jewels in order to see its development in early modern history:

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Two hearts, unified through the giving of a single heart to another now take shape. In the Neoclasscial era post c.1765, we see the use of the heart in ways that denote passion and unification. The most remarkable piece, ‘In Spite of Envy’, is a jewel which exemplifies its time with the use of the heart and peripheral symbols to show unification and love:

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But during the 19th century, Romanticism had given the world the symbols with which Western society still represents itself today. From the 1840s, the use of the heart in jewels, particularly rings, was a subtle flourish, often balanced with other symbols until the early 20th century. Love, as a statement, was the fundamental underpinning of the mourning and sentimental jewellery industry, but the heart in its permutations still was the core symbol for love and devotion.

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Moving back to the sentiment of the posie ring; we see the nature of the hearts united. It is under the promise of contentment that the two hearts can be unified. Contentment as a betrothal is a statement of futurity between two lovers that shows comfort and security, beyond the idea of ‘god’ and into finance and the simplicity of a roof as shelter. The idea of the family is also in play here, from children giving contentment as a lineage from the unification of the lovers.

With its dual, popular meaning, ‘Hearts United Live Contented’ couldn’t be more direct between people as a statement. Indeed, its use even today would be just as profound between two people in love, ready to create their own future.

Further Reading
An Eternity Knot in a Crystal Heart Pendant
Mourning Crystal “Georgian” Heart
18th Century Ribbon Motif Pendant
French Ribbon Pendant, 18th Century
Hairwork Bow/Ribbon Pendant
Rien Sans Amitie, Cabochon Garnet French Mourning Locket
Merit Claims Esteem/Bow Heart Locket, 18th Century
Embellished Georgian Heart Love Pendant
Georgian Eye Miniature Inside a Pendant, c.1820
Posie Rings From the 17th Century
‘Let Vertue bee a guide’ 17th Century Posie Ring

Courtesy: Barbara Robbins
Country: England
Year: mid 17th century
Dedication: Hearts United Live Contented