The Fulford ring is a medieval gold ring with emerald and ruby jewels from the 15th century.
Gold finger rings set with two different jewels are rare archaeological discoveries and this is the first example ever discovered in York. Whilst we don’t know who the ring belonged to, its incredible artistry and rich materials make it one of the finest pieces of medieval jewellery from York.
The ring probably functioned as a love token or betrothal ring. Medieval lapidaries suggest that emeralds were associated with chastity and rubies with love and prevention of anger, which may have been important qualities in a medieval relationship. Other examples of rings with red and green settings display love mottos such as ‘With all my heart’ and ‘The good heart does not move’.
The sides of the hoop are decorated with a delicate and intricate floral engraving. Tiny flecks of black colour can still be seen within its design. These are traces of niello – a black-coloured enamel which originally filled the engraving. This would have contrasted dramatically with the bright gold and allowing the pattern to stand out.
The ring was bought by York Museums Trust in 2019 for £20,000 with funding from from the Headley Museums Archaeological Acquisition Fund, the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, and public donations. The ring first went on public display in the Yorkshire Museum in September 2019.
Please note: The Yorkshire Museum is home to an extensive and varied collection of items and artefacts. Whilst we make every effort to display a broad spectrum of our collections it is not always possible for all our collections to be on display at once.