Introducing the blue sapphire: birthstone of September and stone of choice throughout history for biblical kings and royal princesses. In the Bible, it was designated for the Throne of God: “and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone” (Exodus 24:10), Marbode, Bishop of Rennes (c. 1035 - 1123) defined it as “the most suitable for the fingers of kings” and in the 12th Century, Pope Innocent II had his bishops wear sapphire rings. Why was the sapphire so desirable? In the Middle Ages, jewelry was often valued more for its power than its beauty. The medieval lapidary, liber lapidum, revealed the magical properties of gemstones and the sapphire was thought to cure eye conditions, preserve chastity and symbolized holiness, wisdom and virtue. And what about today? Forbes Magazine reported that sales in sapphire jewelry have soared since Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire ring was offered in marriage to Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, the future heir to the British throne. Perhaps the sapphire is the new girl’s best friend?
Following rings from the mine to the modern private collection, this catalogue of approximately fifty rings explores the roles rings played within social relations and considers how these roles transform rings into multifaceted, richly symbolic objects.