French jewelry vocabulary 2 - post 243

French jewelry vocabulary 2 - post 243

Antique Jewelry French Terminology - 2

French terms for Ring shapes. Not another French vocabulary lesson.

Last week we started to discuss how the French have some specific names for specific shapes of rings that are a little inexplicable to us non-French-speakers. If you use a dictionary or Google Translate, you will not find the meaning of these words because there are not literal translations. I'm a slow learner, but here is what I have found out about some of these words as they pertain to rings. Just for the record, the French word for ring is 'bague' - yes, just like an old bag in pronounciation.


5. Americaine - I don't usually pay too much attention to these rings as they are what we call 'fraternity' rings or class rings here in actual America. Do we associate class rings with the USA? Maybe. However, the plot thickens.

6. A Bague Alliance is a continuous, eternity ring. I understand that the French use the word 'alliance' to refer to an engagement or wedding in the sense of betrothal. So, what we call a wedding band, is what they call 'bague alliance'. For once, this makes some sense. 

wedding rings

7. The tricky question is then, what do they mean by Alliance Americaine? Americaine on its own, we saw above. Does it refer to us, over the pond, why/what? A 'bague alliance Americaine' is an eternity ring set with gems. I have no idea what Americans have to do with gems.

                                                             #5483 sapphire wedding rings

So, while a bague Americaine is a class/fraternal ring, an alliance Americaine is a gemset eternity band. Clear?


8 Chevaliere - a) is what we usually call a signet ring. Often these rings are engraved with intaglios depicting the coat of arms of the original owner. There are also bagues chevaliere or signet rings that are elegant gold mounts holding a single flat-cut stone such as onyx. If you Google Translate chevaliere, Google will respond: Signet Ring.
                                                                                                 #6655 carved cameo signet ring

b) The French complicate things because they might call a geometric, Retro ring, chevaliere as well.

#7057 Retro Ring emeralds


9) Bague forme Tank - seems to be the same as the Retro Chevaliere. Maybe not all rectangular, it might include circular forms. Again, we can ask why/what/? and maybe someone can enlighten me.



10                                               #5257 toi moi antique ring

Toi et Moi literally means 'you and me' and refers to a crossover or bypass ring. It's a lovely, romantic and personal way to describe this kind of ring and like they so often do, the French really got it right in this case.

#5478 toi moi sapphire antique ring

I believe that knowing a language adds so much more to an experience. Knowledge, is vital. I am the first to admit, to my shame, that I should know French and I wish I knew French. Maybe you can set me straight. Can you teach an old dog new tricks?


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