Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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A STONE PRIZED FOR MANY CENTURIES, TURQUOISE IS SAID TO BRING CONTENTMENT TO THE WEARER AND PEACE TO HIS OR HER HOME

Italy, 16th-early 17th century

Gold, turquoise and rock crystals

  • 4.200 €
  • £3,800
  • $5,000
  • A STONE PRIZED FOR MANY CENTURIES, TURQUOISE IS SAID TO BRING CONTENTMENT TO THE WEARER AND PEACE TO HIS OR HER HOME

    Italy, 16th-early 17th century
    Gold, turquoise and rock crystals
    Weight 3.5 gr; bezel 5 x 18 x 10 mm; circumference 55 mm; US size 7¼; UK size O

    Mined in Persia, turquoise is a soft porous mineral that has not survived the centuries well and is easily discolored even by the oils from the skin. It was highly prized in the Middle Ages for its talismanic virtues, promising contentment to the wearer, as well as protection against illness, drowning, poisoning, or having an accident while horseback riding. This type of ring is a variation on the seven stones cluster ring (“à bouquet” type).

    Description
    Rounded hoop, flat on the interior, joining an lozenge-shaped bezel at the shoulders, back of bezel engraved with rays radiating outwards; bezel set with an oblong cabochon turquoise in the center and three table-cut rock crystals on either side. Missing original enamel, else in excellent condition.

    Literature
    For comparisons, see Hashimoto Collection, 9CL031 (same structure of the ring; ex Phillips collection, sale London, Christie’s, 13 December 1989, lot 459; published in Scarisbrick, 2004, no. 186).

    Reference number: 313

  • Turquoise

    Non-translucent, porous semi-precious stone (it is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum) that is usually cut as a cabochon , turquoise was believed to have been first found in Turkey, hence its name (Turquie, French for Turkey). The oldest and finest turquoise mines are located in Persia, but it is found in desert regions worldwide. Over the years, oil from the skin is absorbed by the stone and changes its color slightly. Only when trade with the Near and Middle East increased in the late Middle Ages did the turquoise become popular.

    Rock crystal

    Transparent , crystalline mineral, rock crystal is the purest form of quartz and a semi-precious stone. Rock crystal came from Germany, Switzerland, and France in the medieval era.

    Birthstone

    January-Garnet: Safe travel and a speedy homecoming
    February-Amethyst: Power to overcome difficulties
    March-Jasper: Courage
    April-Diamond: Everlasting love
    May-Emerald: Love and fidelity
    June- Pearl: Purity, Celebrate a birth
    July- Ruby: Prosperity (if worn on the left hand); Everlasting love (if worn on the right)
    August-Peridot and Sardonyx: Strength and growth; Happiness in a relationship
    September-Sapphire: Sincerity and faithfulness
    October-Opal and Tourmaline: Confidence and hope
    November-Citrine and Yellow Topaz: Strength and friendship
    December-Turquoise: Protects against evil and ill health

  • Gemstone

    Gemstone (also called a precious stone) is a mineral that is valuable, rare and often beautiful.

  • Renaissance & Baroque

    Considerable evidence exists concerning the making and wearing of rings in the Renaissance. Their appearance in painted portraits confirms that they continued to be worn on multiple fingers, suspended from chains and ribbons, sewn onto sleeves or hats, and so forth. When not worn they were sometimes stored on parchment rolls or in neatly compartmentalized boxes, known from documents and paintings. In the Renaissance, the medieval practice of using uncut stones was abandoned in favor of faceting; table-cut facets were among the earliest and most popular, but other cuts rapidly followed. Making rings that would show off best the qualities of the stone became a skill that exercised the virtuosity of cutters, chasers, engravers, enamellers, and goldsmiths sometimes in collaboration. The highly sculpturesque quality of most Renaissance and Baroque rings can be compared with the striving for greater veracity that characterizes the monumental arts of this period.

    By far the most common type of ring from the Renaissance was the boxed bezel set with faceted stones in highly ornate geometric bezels with intricate articulated shoulders, sometimes with protruding volutes, the whole richly enameled. Surviving drawings for rings by sixteenth-century goldsmith-designers Etienne Delaune, Pierre Woeiriot, and René Boyvin record variations on this type. Often reviving classical subjects and motifs, numerous cameos and intaglios also date from this era, produced under illustrious, often princely, patronage. By the sixteenth century the careers of famous gem-cutters can be reconstructed; they include Valerio Belli, Alessandro Cesati, Alessandro Masnago, and Francesco Torino. However, few Renaissance cameos and intaglios appear in their original mounts, because they were often made not as rings but rather as virtuoso carvings, kept in drawers in cabinets and taken out and admired by Renaissance princes.

    During Elizabethan and Tudor times in England, commonplace books (the earliest dated 1596) were used by goldsmiths and their customers to provide appropriate inscriptions for rings. References to posy rings (from “poésie” or poetry) abound in literature of the period; for example, in Shakespeare's Hamlet (III, ii, 162): “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring.” The discovery of the New World also wrought changes in the evolution of rings, as it did for painting, because new stones became available. The newly prized diamond, expensive then as now, was often imitated by the similarly favored rock crystal. Extensive surviving pictorial evidence is useful because it contributes to a more precise dating and localization of rings from this era.

     

A STONE PRIZED FOR MANY CENTURIES, TURQUOISE IS SAID TO BRING CONTENTMENT TO THE WEARER AND PEACE TO HIS OR HER HOME

Italy, 16th-early 17th century
Gold, turquoise and rock crystals
Weight 3.5 gr; bezel 5 x 18 x 10 mm; circumference 55 mm; US size 7¼; UK size O

Mined in Persia, turquoise is a soft porous mineral that has not survived the centuries well and is easily discolored even by the oils from the skin. It was highly prized in the Middle Ages for its talismanic virtues, promising contentment to the wearer, as well as protection against illness, drowning, poisoning, or having an accident while horseback riding. This type of ring is a variation on the seven stones cluster ring (“à bouquet” type).

Description
Rounded hoop, flat on the interior, joining an lozenge-shaped bezel at the shoulders, back of bezel engraved with rays radiating outwards; bezel set with an oblong cabochon turquoise in the center and three table-cut rock crystals on either side. Missing original enamel, else in excellent condition.

Literature
For comparisons, see Hashimoto Collection, 9CL031 (same structure of the ring; ex Phillips collection, sale London, Christie’s, 13 December 1989, lot 459; published in Scarisbrick, 2004, no. 186).

Reference number: 313

Turquoise

Non-translucent, porous semi-precious stone (it is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum) that is usually cut as a cabochon , turquoise was believed to have been first found in Turkey, hence its name (Turquie, French for Turkey). The oldest and finest turquoise mines are located in Persia, but it is found in desert regions worldwide. Over the years, oil from the skin is absorbed by the stone and changes its color slightly. Only when trade with the Near and Middle East increased in the late Middle Ages did the turquoise become popular.

Rock crystal

Transparent , crystalline mineral, rock crystal is the purest form of quartz and a semi-precious stone. Rock crystal came from Germany, Switzerland, and France in the medieval era.

Birthstone

January-Garnet: Safe travel and a speedy homecoming
February-Amethyst: Power to overcome difficulties
March-Jasper: Courage
April-Diamond: Everlasting love
May-Emerald: Love and fidelity
June- Pearl: Purity, Celebrate a birth
July- Ruby: Prosperity (if worn on the left hand); Everlasting love (if worn on the right)
August-Peridot and Sardonyx: Strength and growth; Happiness in a relationship
September-Sapphire: Sincerity and faithfulness
October-Opal and Tourmaline: Confidence and hope
November-Citrine and Yellow Topaz: Strength and friendship
December-Turquoise: Protects against evil and ill health

Gemstone

Gemstone (also called a precious stone) is a mineral that is valuable, rare and often beautiful.

Renaissance & Baroque

Considerable evidence exists concerning the making and wearing of rings in the Renaissance. Their appearance in painted portraits confirms that they continued to be worn on multiple fingers, suspended from chains and ribbons, sewn onto sleeves or hats, and so forth. When not worn they were sometimes stored on parchment rolls or in neatly compartmentalized boxes, known from documents and paintings. In the Renaissance, the medieval practice of using uncut stones was abandoned in favor of faceting; table-cut facets were among the earliest and most popular, but other cuts rapidly followed. Making rings that would show off best the qualities of the stone became a skill that exercised the virtuosity of cutters, chasers, engravers, enamellers, and goldsmiths sometimes in collaboration. The highly sculpturesque quality of most Renaissance and Baroque rings can be compared with the striving for greater veracity that characterizes the monumental arts of this period.

By far the most common type of ring from the Renaissance was the boxed bezel set with faceted stones in highly ornate geometric bezels with intricate articulated shoulders, sometimes with protruding volutes, the whole richly enameled. Surviving drawings for rings by sixteenth-century goldsmith-designers Etienne Delaune, Pierre Woeiriot, and René Boyvin record variations on this type. Often reviving classical subjects and motifs, numerous cameos and intaglios also date from this era, produced under illustrious, often princely, patronage. By the sixteenth century the careers of famous gem-cutters can be reconstructed; they include Valerio Belli, Alessandro Cesati, Alessandro Masnago, and Francesco Torino. However, few Renaissance cameos and intaglios appear in their original mounts, because they were often made not as rings but rather as virtuoso carvings, kept in drawers in cabinets and taken out and admired by Renaissance princes.

During Elizabethan and Tudor times in England, commonplace books (the earliest dated 1596) were used by goldsmiths and their customers to provide appropriate inscriptions for rings. References to posy rings (from “poésie” or poetry) abound in literature of the period; for example, in Shakespeare's Hamlet (III, ii, 162): “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring.” The discovery of the New World also wrought changes in the evolution of rings, as it did for painting, because new stones became available. The newly prized diamond, expensive then as now, was often imitated by the similarly favored rock crystal. Extensive surviving pictorial evidence is useful because it contributes to a more precise dating and localization of rings from this era.

 

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