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This is a wonderful Renaissance silver finger ring, dating to the 16th - 17th century. It is set with a brownstone, tested as a "Toadstone" or fossil tooth. The gem is set in a raised bezel. The shoulders are decorated with knobbles. The back of the bezel has a small opening revealing the inside set with tar or pitch.
Toadstone is an amuletic stone that was highly prized for its magical powers. Toadstones is a brown or orangeish substance believed to come from a toad's head. It was highly valued and reputed to protect the wearer against kidney diseases, to cure the bite of venomous creatures and to detect poison. It was also thought to protect pregnant women and to prevent their child from being exchanged for a changeling. When set in a ring it would give off heat in the presence of poison. This was described by Fenton in 1569 "Being used in rings they give forewarning of venom".
Similar examples of toadstone rings can be found in the collections of The British Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum of London (as part of the Cheapside Hoard)
A rare ring in good excavated condition.
OBJECT: Finger Ring
DATE: c. 16th - 17th century AD.
MATERIAL: Silver & Toadstone
RING SIZE: 7 3/4 (US) P 1/2 (UK)
SIZE: 28.18mm x 24mm x 2.37mm (Bezel 7.51mm x 8.18mm x 8.04mm)
WEIGHT: 4.72 grams
PROVENANCE: Formerly in European private collection, Netherlands.