"I kissed her and she gave me a little silk bag. 'My rings. Two are valuable. Don't show it to him. Hide it away. Promise me.'"

One reason that jewellery has historically been so important to women is that it is one of the few forms of property that women have been able to own. A wife's jewellery was, until the Married Women's Property Acts, the property of her husband, but nevertheless it often functions as financial security for women in fiction, as it undoubtedly did in real life.

The Merchant of Venice's Jessica famously steals her father's ring; one of the first acts of Daniel Deronda's heroine, Gwendoline, is to pawn a necklace when she realises that her family is destitute.

Indian women still speak of wearing their fortune (as gold) on their arms and necks.