The antique rings were included in an online sale in July at Sotheby’s of letters and other items from the early days of the couple’s marriage and attracted multiple bids before they were secured by Wartski for a premium-inclusive £27,720.
Plath married Hughes on June 16, 1956, just four months after they first met. The simple wedding bands, one hallmarked Chester 1901 and the other Birmingham 1907, were hurriedly purchased by the couple in the run-up to the ceremony from an antiques shop in London.
Plath and Hughes, who went on to become Britain’s poet laureate, remain two of the most celebrated post-war poets in English literature. Their relationship was tumultuous and the couple separated in 1962, a year before Plath committed suicide.
Wartksi’s Thomas Holman told ATG: “These rings are incredibly potent objects linked to perhaps one of the most significant and important relationships in 20th century literature. Not only do they symbolise a whirlwind romance, but they have also traced the letters and the writing process of these extraordinary poems.”
Holman added the rings came housed together in a small metal box with a carved horn unicorn to the lid; “Ted Hughes was very interested in zodiac and the occult so the box is in itself is a mystery that will need to be unravelled in time.”
Wartksi has long been associated with historic jewellery and has a history of creating rings for the royal family, including the wedding band for the Duchess of Cambridge.