Gimmel Ring

Project details

  • Object number – 6130-JR
  • Material – Gold
  • Place of Origin – Likely England
  • Date – c. 1611-1617
  • Context – Blacksmith Shop/Bakery
  • Location – Study collection
  • Category – Dress & Personal

The three gold wavy and twisted hoops fit together to form a finger ring called a gimmel ring. One hoop of the ring bears a tiny heart, suggesting that it was worn as a token of love. Gimmel rings, also called joint rings, were commonly used in 16th and 17th century England to signify a betrothal or marriage. They were most often made of just two interlocking hoops, but some 17th-century gimmel rings had three parts like the Jamestown ring, as indicated by Robert Herrick’s 1648 poem “The Jimmall Ring or True Love-Knot:”

Thou sent’st to me a true love-knot, but I
Returned a ring of jimmals to imply
Thy love had one knot, mine a triple tie.

Finger rings were popular dress accessories at the time of Jamestown’s settlement. It was not uncommon for men and women to wear several rings at once on fingers and thumbs. Only the middle fingers were spared. Rings were often given as mementoes, and when they didn’t fit the finger they were strung around necks, ears, sleeves, and hats.