The History of Poesy Rings

St. Eligious, painted in 1515
St. Eligius (c. 588 ~ 660) is the patron saint of goldsmiths.
Painted by Niclaus Manuel in 1515.

Today’s couples often have their wedding bands engraved with initials or dates.  Hundreds of years ago people were also inscribing religious or inspirational messages and vowing their lifelong commitment on poesy rings.

Poesy Ring circa 1300
From the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, this circa 1300 gold ring is inscribed in Lombardic capitals, "Well for him who knows whom he can trust"

Also spelled posie or posey, these rings derived their name from the French word “poésie,” or poem, because of the short sayings with which they were engraved that were religious, friendly or amorous in nature.

Poesy Ring circa 1700
This posy ring dates from the 17th century and was created in either Great Britain or France by an unknown maker. Animals and plants are engraved on the outside, and there are traces of white enamel on the hare suggesting it once was brightly colored. The inscription inside reads “LOYALTE NE PEUR,” which translates to “loyalty not fear.”

Posy rings were popular from the latter half of the Middle Ages, which extended from the 15th to 17th century. In medieval times, when religion was very much a part of everyday life, it was common for saints’ figures or religious text to appear on the rings alongside romantic expressions or even expressions of friendship. In this way, the rings functioned both as a religious talisman and a gift of love. 

Poesy Rings circa 1700's

Posy rings from Medieval period mostly have the words engraved around the outside of the band, while in later examples the lettering is found inside.  This example is very pictorial as well.

At left a 17th century poesy ring with pictogram inscription, ‘Two hands, one heart, Till death us part.’  Made in England in the 17th century.

Like much personalized jewelry today, the posy ring provided the wearer the chance to don something completely different than what their neighbor had. They could dictate a saying that was personal to them and the person with whom they were exchanging the ring.
Poesy Ring

Renaissance Poesy Ring "Trew Love Is My Desyre", England, 17th century

The phrases were written in Latin, Old French or Old English. Until about 1350, the lettering was done in a script with rounded capital letters known as Lombardic, while later examples use Gothic script.  Certain inscriptions appear on multiple rings, indicating the goldsmiths of the day had a book of stock phrases from which clients could choose.
Poesy Ring

A high karat gold poesy ring engraved,
16th century Gothic script.

Poesy Ring

“Not the value but my love”
England, late 17th - early 18th century
Gold, enamel

Poesy Ring

"You never knew a heart so true"
Early 18th century
Gold, engraved

Egyptian Metalsmith
Prior to the "Poesy Rings" of the 15th century,  the Egyptian language was a language of images that appeared on their jewelry.  A wall painting of an Egyptian goldsmith working at a small furnace, possibly soldering- using a blow pipe to make the fire hotter, and using tongs, probably of copper or bronze.

These are some examples of the inscriptions found on actual poesy rings that have survived from the 15th to the 17th century.  Note that many have 'period' spelling, not necessarily the same as spelling used today:

‘A Frindes gift’

‘A loving wife during life’

‘A true friends Gift’

‘A vertuous wife preseurueth life’

‘After consent ever content’

‘I love you.”

‘As God decreed soe wee agreed’

‘ As gold is pure, so love is sure’


‘As I prove I wish your love’


‘Be true in Harte’

‘Bee firme in faith’

(certainly my choice)

‘Content is a treasure’

‘Continew Faythfull’

‘Denial is Death’



(to my husband)

‘Far of yet not forgot’

‘Feare god love thy choyse’

‘Feare not mee, i’le faithful bee’

‘God above increase our love’

‘God made us two one’

‘God send me always of his grace’

‘Harbor the harmless hart’

‘Harts United Live Contented’

‘Humility is the true Nobility’

‘I am free for God & Thee’

‘I cannot show the love I O’

‘I give it the to think on mee’

‘ I have obtained whome god ordained ‘

“I joy in one yet enjoy none”



‘I live in Hope’

‘I love and like my choice’

‘I rejoyce in the my choice’

‘I with your pretty sight, will breed you much delight’

‘In Christ and thee my comfort be’

‘In love abide till death devide’

‘In loyalty Ile live and dye’

‘In thy breast my heart doth rest’

‘In thee I find content of mind’

‘In thee my choyce I doe reioyce’

‘In thy sight is my delight’

‘Knit in one by Christ alone ‘

‘Let the Lord above send peace & love’

‘Let this present my good intent’

‘Let love continue’

‘Let us share in joy and care’

‘Let vertue rule affection’

‘Let vertue still direct thy will’

‘Let virtue be a guid to thee * ‘

‘Live & Love’

‘Live and Love Happy’

  ‘Live in Love & feare the lord above’

‘ Love I Like Thee + Sweete Requite Thee’

‘Love is my joy’

‘Love is the bond of peace’

‘love never dies where vertu lies’

‘Loue to be louved’

‘Love till you dye and soe will I’

‘Love vertu’

‘Moe love to Myne’ More love to Mine’

‘My gift is myselfe’

‘my hart is thine’

‘My Heart I Bind Where Love I Find’

‘My love by this presented is

My love to thee shall endless be

‘NE MEUR BON’  followed by a heart rebus
(A good heart never dies)

‘No gift like good will’

‘No riches like content’

‘Noe Heart More true than mine to you.’

‘Noe recompence but love’

‘None Can Preuent the Lord’s Intent’

‘Not loft but gon before.’

‘Not so able as willing’

‘Not the value but my love’

‘Of earthli joyse thou art my choys’

‘Oh hurt noty [heart pictogram] whose only joy thou art’

‘One chosen both happy’

‘Rather dye then faith denye’

‘Remember the giver’

‘Sith hands and hart with one Consent
let nought but death the Knot preuent’

‘Some love in earnest, some in jest,
I love her that I like best’

‘Success to our fleet.’

‘The god of peace our love increase’


‘The Lord us Bless with Good Success’

‘The loue is trew that I O U’

‘The Love of thee is life to me’

‘The ring is round & hath no end so is my love for thy’

“Thinke it not strange though wee exchaing”

‘True love is endless’

‘True love will not remove’


Where There is Love There is Faith’

‘United hearts death only parts’

‘Vertue paseth ryches’

‘Wee joine our harts in God’

‘Wee joyne our love in God above’

‘When this you se remember me’

‘Yield and Conquer’

‘You and I will Lovers dye’

‘You have my hart’

‘You never knew a heart more true ‘


Poesy Rings at T.S. Brown Jewelry
Click here to see our Poesy Ring Collection

T. S. Brown Jewelry

Jewelry makers since 1983 in The Cotton Exchange
T. S. Brown Jewelry