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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Decade ring

A type of ring (sometimes called a 'rosary ring) used in counting prayers, as with a rosary. Such rings have around the shank ten projecting knobs or ridges, to correspond to the ten aves of the decade on a rosary, with the bezel being the paternoster.

Some examples have more than ten knobs (one for a paternoster, one for a Credo), being from the 15th century when the method of counting prayers was standardized. The bezel of the 15th century was engraved with a depiction of a saint, but from Tudor times the decoration was usually the engraved sacred monogram 'I H S', accompanied by a cross and three nails, but sometimes a crucifix.

Such rings have been used from the 15th century, but mainly in the 17th and 18th centuries (particularly during the periods of Catholic persecution, being easier to conceal than a rosary), and they are still used in Spain.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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