poison rings – alternately referred to as pillbox, compartment, locket or vessel rings – also had a benign purpose. During the Middle Ages, they were often used to hide relics of saints, like bits of their hair, bone and teeth, which were thought to protect the wearer from various calamities and maladies. During the Renaissance, the aristocracy used them to hold cologne, locks of hair, and portraits of loved ones.
Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519), an Italian noblewoman and only daughter of Pope Alexander VI, was said to be adept at using poison rings for disposing of political rivals. Experts note that disguising the taste of poison and making a dose powerful enough to be fatal but still fit in a ring was extremely difficult – so victims by this method of murder may have been few.
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