400 years after Shakespeare’s death, George Pragnell has painstakingly created an exact copy of the signet ring found in a field next to Holy Trinity church in 1810 – the place where Shakespeare’s daughter Judith was married in 1616. Discover all about this exquisite jewelry piece with Design Limited Edition!
Of all the commemorative Shakespearian jewellery out there – the plastic pendants encasing scraps of sonnets, the copious usage of the line “And though she be but little, she is fierce” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in everything from brass bangles to cotton friendship bracelets – not much of it has anything to do with the jewellery of Shakespeare’s time.
Various 17th-century portraits of Shakespeare himself – notably the Chandos portrait – show the Bard sporting a gold hoop in his left ear. It seems little has changed since Elizabethan and Jacobean times, since blokes who fancy themselves creative, bohemian types still go for the single left ear piercing today. Thankfully, they’ve abandoned the shorts-over-tights look of that era, although apparently men wearing hosiery is a thing, and not one to be sniggered at.
While a little gold piercing would be easy to replicate, the only piece of jewellery in existence widely believed to have belonged to Shakespeare himself wouldn’t be so easily copied. But if there is one jeweller who has earned the right to do so, it’s George Pragnell of Stratford-upon-Avon.
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This month, 400 years after Shakespeare’s death, the English family jeweller has painstakingly created an exact copy of the signet ring found in a field next to Holy Trinity church in 1810 – the place where Shakespeare’s daughter Judith was married in 1616. Embossed with the initials WS, intertwined with a delicate lovers’ knot, the signet ring was typical of that worn at the time and was used to press into molten wax, often to authenticate a document.
While there’s no concrete evidence that the ring belonged to Shakespeare, the likelihood that it did means it is now on display at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. And the Pragnell family – whose premises are in a series of Tudor cottages built by a friend of Shakespeare’s in 1585 – have gone to extraordinary lengths to honour the original, right down to recreating exactly the composition of gold; a typically Elizabethan mix of gold, silver, and copper to form a gleaming 20-karats.
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Signet rings have never really gone out of fashion, and George Pragnell already sells a range of them in 9-karat or 18-karat gold, waiting to be personalised by their craftsmen depending on a client’s wishes. But any true Shakespeare buff with an appreciation of just how faithful this re-edition of the Bard’s ring is to the original would realise that this is a truly special piece of jewellery.
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