Rubies have long been one of the most desirable of gemstones. Known as ‘Ratnaraj’ or ‘King of Gems’ in ancient Sanskrit, rubies appear in Biblical texts attributed to King Solomon and were prized by nobles such as Cardinal Richelieu and Mary, Queen of Scots. They were coveted not only for their crimson hue, but also for their purported talismanic properties. According to Medieval lapidaries, which describe the virtues and application of gems, a ruby had the ability to grant protection and health to the wearer as well as to engender goodwill between people while in the Christian context they also symbolized the sacrificial blood of Christ. During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the ruby, like the red rose, became emblematic of love, making it a popular choice for betrothal and wedding rings like those found on our site. To this day, the ruby remains one of the most popular colored gemstones with spectacular specimens like the Sunrise Ruby fetching $30 million at auction.
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Drawing important examples of Asian rings from the Les Enluminures exhibition Rings around the World Sandra Hindman and Beatriz Chadour-Sampson examine the universality of finger rings across cultures and through time, highlighting the parallels between Asia and the West.
This Les Enluminures exhibition will open in London in November and travel to New York through December. It explores the eternal forms, inspirations, and aesthetics of finger rings across many cultures throughout history, with over forty rings deriving from China, the Middle East, Europe, and America.