Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Gold and Enamel Band by Giovanni Corvaja

Italy, Todi, 2013

Gold, enamels

  • 21.200 €
  • £18,900
  • $25,000
  • Gold and Enamel Band by Giovanni Corvaja

    Italy, Todi, 2013
    Gold, enamels
    Weight 16 gr., US size 8.75, UK size R ¼

    This gold ring is composed of two flat hoops with slightly rounded edges that frame a central band within a cocoon of extremely fine gold wires and globules of multicolored enamels. Inside the hoop there is a grid through which bunches of seven fine wires are pulled and held in place with molten globules. The tips of these wires are molten to form small granules and then randomly curled and enameled to create the decoration. On the rim of the hoop are Italian warranty marks and Corvaja’s maker’s mark. Today it is rare to find rings that are at once thoroughly grounded in ancient techniques and traditional materials and yet persistently forward-looking. This ring embodies all of these qualities. It advances ancient techniques of gold-working mastered by the Etruscans and explores innovative applications of granulation, using finer strands of gold wire and enlivening them with globules of brightly colored enamel.

    Reference number: 538

  • Band

    A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

    Hoop

    Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

    Enamel

    Siliceous substance fusible upon metal, either transparent or opaque and with or without color, but it is usually employed to add decorative color to metal. Enamel can be applied in many different ways, including cloisonné , champlevé , and plique à jour .

    Granulation

    Decoration consisting of minute spherical grains of metal soldered to a background usually in gold; the ancient method which left no solder visible between the grains and the surface of the gold was rediscovered only in the twentieth century.

  • Later

    It is virtually impossible to do justice to the evolution of jewelry from the Baroque period (c. 1700) to Modern times in a short synopsis, but these are a few highlights. Many of the functional aspects of finger-rings continued: they served for betrothal and marriage, for signing and family identification, for memorial purposes, as well as for pure ornament. However, some new types of rings emerge during this period: such as puzzle rings, gimmick rings, perfume rings, and rings that celebrated scientific achievements (e.g., watch rings) are but a few of the examples.

    This time span witnesses the emergence of the “archaeological style,” of which the work of Fortunato Pio Castellani in the 1830s to 1860s is a particularly well-known example, one that fits in the Neo-Classical period. We see the flourishing of other styles related to artistic movements in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These include Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, both beginning around the 1880s, and Art Deco in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It also covers the emergence of some of the most famous twentieth-century houses of jewelry, such as Cartier, Charmet, Boucheron, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mellerio, to mention only a few. Jewelry historians responsible for exhibitions in major museums have begun to trace the historical contributions and characterize the styles of jewelry, including rings, not only of these different artistic movements, but also of these great houses.

    Two other sometimes-overlapping categories of later jewelry are of significant import. The first category, “artist jewelry,” consists of jewelry by artists mostly known for their work in other media, such as Picasso, Calder, Dali, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein, Anish Kapoor, and many others. The second category, “studio jewelry” includes work by modern and contemporary goldsmiths. Among those practicing today of special mention are Wendy Ramshaw and others belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company in London, dedicated to continuing the craft since it received its first royal charter in 1327. Others of different national origins include the Italian Giovanni Corvaja (handled by Adrian Sassoon in London), the American Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR of Paris (whose international exhibition was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2013), Otto Jakob of Germany, and the newcomer Wallace Chan of China. The experienced viewer-collector, as well as the newcomer to the field, can begin to learn about modern jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with its dedicated jewelry gallery and specialized curator, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, and the private collection of Alice and Louis Koch.

Gold and Enamel Band by Giovanni Corvaja

Italy, Todi, 2013
Gold, enamels
Weight 16 gr., US size 8.75, UK size R ¼

This gold ring is composed of two flat hoops with slightly rounded edges that frame a central band within a cocoon of extremely fine gold wires and globules of multicolored enamels. Inside the hoop there is a grid through which bunches of seven fine wires are pulled and held in place with molten globules. The tips of these wires are molten to form small granules and then randomly curled and enameled to create the decoration. On the rim of the hoop are Italian warranty marks and Corvaja’s maker’s mark. Today it is rare to find rings that are at once thoroughly grounded in ancient techniques and traditional materials and yet persistently forward-looking. This ring embodies all of these qualities. It advances ancient techniques of gold-working mastered by the Etruscans and explores innovative applications of granulation, using finer strands of gold wire and enlivening them with globules of brightly colored enamel.

Reference number: 538

Band

A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

Hoop

Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

Enamel

Siliceous substance fusible upon metal, either transparent or opaque and with or without color, but it is usually employed to add decorative color to metal. Enamel can be applied in many different ways, including cloisonné , champlevé , and plique à jour .

Granulation

Decoration consisting of minute spherical grains of metal soldered to a background usually in gold; the ancient method which left no solder visible between the grains and the surface of the gold was rediscovered only in the twentieth century.

Later

It is virtually impossible to do justice to the evolution of jewelry from the Baroque period (c. 1700) to Modern times in a short synopsis, but these are a few highlights. Many of the functional aspects of finger-rings continued: they served for betrothal and marriage, for signing and family identification, for memorial purposes, as well as for pure ornament. However, some new types of rings emerge during this period: such as puzzle rings, gimmick rings, perfume rings, and rings that celebrated scientific achievements (e.g., watch rings) are but a few of the examples.

This time span witnesses the emergence of the “archaeological style,” of which the work of Fortunato Pio Castellani in the 1830s to 1860s is a particularly well-known example, one that fits in the Neo-Classical period. We see the flourishing of other styles related to artistic movements in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These include Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, both beginning around the 1880s, and Art Deco in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It also covers the emergence of some of the most famous twentieth-century houses of jewelry, such as Cartier, Charmet, Boucheron, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mellerio, to mention only a few. Jewelry historians responsible for exhibitions in major museums have begun to trace the historical contributions and characterize the styles of jewelry, including rings, not only of these different artistic movements, but also of these great houses.

Two other sometimes-overlapping categories of later jewelry are of significant import. The first category, “artist jewelry,” consists of jewelry by artists mostly known for their work in other media, such as Picasso, Calder, Dali, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein, Anish Kapoor, and many others. The second category, “studio jewelry” includes work by modern and contemporary goldsmiths. Among those practicing today of special mention are Wendy Ramshaw and others belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company in London, dedicated to continuing the craft since it received its first royal charter in 1327. Others of different national origins include the Italian Giovanni Corvaja (handled by Adrian Sassoon in London), the American Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR of Paris (whose international exhibition was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2013), Otto Jakob of Germany, and the newcomer Wallace Chan of China. The experienced viewer-collector, as well as the newcomer to the field, can begin to learn about modern jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with its dedicated jewelry gallery and specialized curator, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, and the private collection of Alice and Louis Koch.

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