The Poison Ring

poison ring

Poison rings play a key role in lots of murder mysteries. Enemies were killed with a slight movement of the hand over the food plate or wine glass. The idea of a ring containing poison is not new. In fact, it is thousands of years old. In the ancient times, a ring was made featuring a tiny compartment for storing poisonous powder. It was made to be used to commit suicide if captured by foes or simply kill enemies by poisoning their wine.

However, this wasn’t the only use of poison rings. They were often used to hold notes, locks of hair, religious relics, or other souvenirs of a religious or romantic nature. Poison rings are still quite popular. In fact, they are one of the best etsy jewelry pieces you can buy.


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This captivating piece of jewelry dates back to the Romans but was used through the 16th and 17th centuries. It was particularly popular during the 16th century throughout Europe. As mentioned above, it was used to contain many things e.g. devotional relics, messages, locks of hair, perfume, etc. Different and fashionable, most of the rich people owned one.

The poison ring came to Europe from the Middle East, Asia, and Russia as a result of the Holy Trade. There were variety of uses for these best etsy jewelry pieces that had nothing to do with storing souvenirs.

Poison Ring as a Means to an End

poison ring

This specific piece of jewelry had been used in the past for killing by assassins or suicide by those in captivity. The tiny compartment under the ring’s bezel would hide cyanide or arsenic – the weapon of choice by Venice’s political assassins at that time. While the captor waited for the guillotine, noose or other ways of torment, the prisoner would use the ring to take the poison, hence ending his life and avoiding the torture. Rulers used these rings to hide poison and kill their political adversaries.

The poison rings were made with intercut detail. The ring’s construction determined how the poison would be dispensed. For instance, some rings had a lever that would open the top of the bezel upon pressing. Others had a small hole drilled into the right or left side depending on which hand it was supposed to be worn. The wearer would dispense the poison into a glass of wine by simply removing the inside finger concealing the hole.

700 Years Old Bulgarian Bronze Poison Ring

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A 700 years old poison ring was found in 2013 by Bulgarian archaeologists on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The site at which it was found used to be at the center of a brutal inter-family struggle between Dobrotitsa and his son Ivanko – the rulers of the Principality of Karvuna in the 14th century. The ring may help explain the series of political murders within the region during that period.

The poison ring is not out of fashion. There are wide variety of modern versions of these rings available nowadays. They are some of the best etsy jewelry pieces you can buy. Prices range from under $40 to thousands of dollars.