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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

April 25, 1993|Elizabeth Houghton

RINGS: Symbols of Wealth, Power, and Affection by Diana Scarisbrick (Abrams: $60; 224 pp.) The gift of a ring, given or received, empowers generations to come with the knowledge that love was once there and can be once again. Long after commitments are broken, families disbanded and loves lost, the ring remains a symbol, pure in its constancy. The ring is eternal.

In the hands of Diana Scarisbrick, rings unite nations, build empires and join together all lovers including mere mortal and God. From the papal ring to the wedding ring, the talismanic ring to the signet ring, love triumphs over all and good guards against evil in illustrious historical and social context. The author deciphers inscriptions and interprets motifs with such a playful wit, she is sure to dazzle even the dullest into this world of rings where in the slip of a finger you would be king, a queen to your countrymen or a mere slave to a master of love.

The jewels themselves and the artists who have set them find long due recognition in these pages. Access to unpublished records and private collections allow for a good long look at those rings that have taken romance to new heights and given hope a happy ending.

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