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Gold Victorian Bishops ring with stunning enamel work and hidden ring with stalking wolf

The current owner of this magnificent ring might be interested in reselling it!
Contact us for more information.
(higher price category)

A bishops ring is not an every day object in our inventory. In the almost 30 years of experience in the antique jewelry trade we can recall to have purchased only two before. (One of them we lend out to the makers of the movie "The Da Vinci code" based on the best seller by Dan Brown. It was worn by Alfred Molino playing the role of Bishop Aringarosa.)

There is something odd about this ring. Not the bishops ring itself but the ring that comes with it. Inside the bishops ring we found a silver ring hidden with in relief a gold wolf. Bishops rings are normally worn on gloves so their size is "a bit larger then normal". But to find another ring hidden into such ring puzzles us. A hidden ring with a non-Christian motif. What could be the story behind this? Why would a person wearing such ring find it important to hide an extra symbol to this high profile ring and hide it?

This particular ring is set with a huge gem amethyst in a beautiful velvetish dark sparkling color and is elaborately crafted with angels in high relief on both sides. The wings of the angels are enameled in a way that we can recognize as a neo-Egyptian style. Each angel holds a shield, one shield with the Chi Rho sign and the other shield with three letters PSV, most probably the initials of the Bishop.

The Chi Rho is one of the earliest forms of christogram, and is used by Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two letters in the Greek spelling of the word Christ, chi = ch and rho = r. The Chi-Rho symbol was also used by pagan Greek scribes to mark, in the margin, a particularly valuable or relevant passage; the combined letters Chi and Rho standing for chreston, meaning "good."

According to "The Church Visible", by James-Charles Noonan, Jr. (Viking), the bishop's ring is a sign of authority. In the earlier Code of Canon Law clerics who were not bishops were forbidden to wear rings. As a symbol of episcopal authority the ring first appeared in the third century. By 637 A.D. St. Isidore of Seville would write, "To the bishop at his consecration is given a staff; a ring likewise is given him to signify pontifical honor or as a seal for secrets". According to Noonan, the bishop's ring would later also take on the symbolic meaning that he was wedded to the Church. The cardinal's ring is given by the Holy Father at a Mass following his being named a cardinal.

Update - May 11, 2010.
We received a mail giving us the following explanation:
"I truly believe I know the answer to your question about the hidden wolf ring. It was a symbol used especially by priests who were also Jesuits. Jesuits, as you may or may not know, have a very, what some may call, "sinister" history and a stealthy agenda (which you may want to look into), such that the wolf is the perfect symbol, and a hidden wolf within the ostentatious outer ring fits this "brotherhood" of master deceivers perfectly!"
We do not claim that this is the answer to the riddle but it could be!

Update - October 18, 2010.
We received a mail giving us the following explanation:
To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing in reference to the Gold Victorian Bishops Ring (Reference Nș: 09360-4341 ) you have shown on your website. From the lack of information you have on the ring I assume you know little of it? I on the other hand do know the significant provenance of the ring.

The ring was commisioned for my great grandfather in 1869 by, the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Paris, Georges Darboy. My great grandfather, I will not disclose his name for personal reasons, was both a member of Dutch and English aristocracy. Dutch by birth and English through marriage. Georges Darboy is one of the most prominent of all the Bishops of Paris, he was an ostentatious man and held his differences with the Pope as to hid infallibility. My great grandfather and Darboy were close friends, often visiting and hunting with one another.

The ring was made during the Franco-Prussian war as a gift to my great grandfather for funding the rebuild of a significant church or chapel (I am unsure of which) in the Paris region after it is was devastated by fire years before. My great grandfather also gifted a number of relics from his private collection to the Bishop over the years before his death.

When the ring was originally made the stone it housed was a Sapphire. By all the accounts the stone was an exception example - nearly flawless and of magnificant colour. Queen Victoria herself admired the stone in a letter to my great grandmother. Unfortunately the sapphire was accidentaly broken some years later and replaced by the current stone. We still have three rather large stones that were cut from the original broken sapphire. We also have a portrait of my great grandfather wearing the ring in 1887 with the original sapphire.

Georges Darboy was killed in Paris by the Communards during their takeover of Paris in 1871.

The ring passed to my grandfather and then onto my father. It was left accidentally in the Netherlands upon my fathers escape to England upon the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. The ring was never seen again. It is great to see that it survived the war and subsequent years.

Unto the ring itself, the Chi-Rho is indeed a Chir-Rho but also the representation of the latin word PAX, meaning 'peace'. Darboy expressed this as his wish for peace between France and Prussia. The initials are that of my great grandfather. The inner ring with the wolf does not have any connection to the Jesuits. Neither Darboy or my great grandfather had a connection to the Jesuits. The wolf ring was made shortly after the main ring to fit my great grandfathers finger without gloves - this way he could wear it to mass. The wolf itself represents the nickname of my great grandfather.

Sadly, I am not in a position to purchase the ring but I would appreciate that the provenance of the ring be passed onto the person that does purchase the stone. I do not mind you providing this information on your website as long as no reference to myself or family are made with it.

Update - October 20, 2010.
To make this long and interesting story even more interesting, we invite you to visit There, take a look at the text and picture of Georges Darboy and then look at the name of the blog (remember the hidden ring with wolf motif inside the Bishops ring!). Conspiracy hunters of all countries, unite!

Antique jewelry object group: rings

Country of origin: France

Style: Victorian
(more info on styles)

Style specifics: early Art Nouveau - The subject of this piece, although typical 19th Century, announces the coming of the Art Nouveau style.

Period: ca. 1880
(events and facts in 1880)

Source of inspiration: Christianity

Theme: angels - Various Old Testament texts, such as Judith's « His angel has been my safekeeper » and references in the Psalms, point to their existance. This is clarified in the New Covenant when Christ speaks of the Angels as the « little ones». We mention that for those who want their own guide, protector and friend.

Material: 18K yellow gold
(more info on precious metals)

Technique: Enamelling is an old and widely-adopted technology. The ancient Egyptians applied enamels to pottery and stone objects. The ancient Greeks, Celts, Russians, and Chinese also used enameling processes on metal objects. Enamel is the colorful result of fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850 degrees Celsius. The powder melts and flows and hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating on metal, glass or ceramic. According to some sources, the word enamel comes from the High German word smelzan (to smelt) via the Old French esmail. Used as a noun, "an enamel" is a usually small decorative object, coated with enamel coating, such as a champlevé or a cloisonné (different techniques).

Precious stones: amethyst (dimensions approximately 1.80 cm (0.71 inch) x 1.17 cm (0.46 inch)
(more info on precious stones)

Birthstones: Amethyst is the birthstone (or month stone) for February.
(more info on birthstones)

Hallmarks: In the gold ring we find the French control mark for 18K gold representing an eagle's head that was in use in France from about 1838.
In the silver ring we find the Copyright sign in front of three letters "OTT" and the word "STERLING" indicating the silver alloy to be 925.
(more info on hallmarks)

Condition: excellent condition
(more info on our condition scale)

Dimensions: Face of ring 2.76 cm (1.09 inch) x 3.78 cm (1.49 inch)

Weight: 36.40 gram (23.41 dwt)

Gold ring size:
69 & 22 , Size US 12¾ , Size UK: Z This ring cannot be resized because of the way it is made.
Silver ring size:
Continental: 54 & 17¼ , Size US 6¾ , Size UK: N

Resizing: Free resizing, but because of the the way the ring is made, we cannot guarantee to make it on every size; so please ask in advance (only for extreme resizing we have to charge).
(more info on ring sizes)

Reference Nº: 09360-4341

See also our:
victorian jewelry, victorian rings, all our rings, christian jewelry, jewelry with amethyst, latest acquisitions,
antique jewelry, estate jewelry, vintage jewelry or modern jewelry

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August - September - October - November or December.

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Gold Victorian Bishops ring with stunning enamel work and hidden ring with stalking wolf
Click picture to enlarge
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