Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Baroque Emerald Cluster Ring

Spain, late 17th century

Gold, emeralds

  • 10.600 €
  • £9,300
  • $12,500
  • Baroque Emerald Cluster Ring

    Spain, late 17th century
    Gold, emeralds
    Weight 5.3 gr.; circumference 54.51 mm.; US size 7; UK size O

    Over centuries the most treasured of gemstones in Spain was the emerald, harking back to their discovery in the New World. Spanish galleons crossed the Atlantic bringing in from Columbia quantities of gold and the highly-prized emeralds. Due to the quality and intense color of emeralds coming from Columbia these were much sought after in Europe and even by the Maharajas of India. Rings with gem-set clusters became popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the stones were often enhanced in color by underlying foils. The decorative ring would have had a personal meaning for the wearer, not only as a gift, but through the significance of the emerald. Lapidary books are numerous as are the properties of gemstones. Emeralds were believed to avert panic or repel demons, increase riches, strengthen memory or bring joy.

    Description:
    Gold ring with a flat hoop, slightly rounded on the exterior with engraved foliage and trefoil-shaped ends. Set in these are three table-cut emeralds in box settings with foliate surrounds. The bezel is riveted onto a flat circular base and consists of a hemispherical form with table-cut emerald and arched borders in relief along the base. The ring is in good wearable condition. 

    Literature:
    Similar rings are in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid (see: exh. cat. La Joyería Española de Felipe II a Alfonso XIII, 1998, no. 120). For variants of the type, cf. an example in the Hashimoto Collection (Scarisbrick 2004, no. 241) and for the foliate type settings a ring in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. vol. 1, no. 947).  For the different colors of emeralds traded in the seventeenth century, see: Hazel Forsyth, The Cheapside Hoard, The London’s Lost Jewels, London 2012, pp. 134 – 135.  

    Reference number: 870

  • Emerald

    Hard, green precious stone , emeralds (and all forms of beryl) have large, perfect, six-sided crystals. Before the discovery of the new world, emeralds came mostly from Egypt; the finer emeralds come from the New World.

    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

  • Band

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

    Bezel

    The upper, protruding part of a finger ring (excluding the hoop and the shoulders) often set with a gemstone.

    Box setting

    A box-shaped bezel setting either in the form of a quadrangle or rectangle with a closed underside.

    Table-cut

    One of the earliest styles of gem cutting, based on the natural octahedron, one of the forms in which diamond crystals occur. The top of the octahedron is cut off to leave a flat surface with the pointed half of the octahedron below.

     

    Hoop

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

  • 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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Baroque Emerald Cluster Ring

Spain, late 17th century
Gold, emeralds
Weight 5.3 gr.; circumference 54.51 mm.; US size 7; UK size O

USD $12,500

Over centuries the most treasured of gemstones in Spain was the emerald, harking back to their discovery in the New World. Spanish galleons crossed the Atlantic bringing in from Columbia quantities of gold and the highly-prized emeralds. Due to the quality and intense color of emeralds coming from Columbia these were much sought after in Europe and even by the Maharajas of India. Rings with gem-set clusters became popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the stones were often enhanced in color by underlying foils. The decorative ring would have had a personal meaning for the wearer, not only as a gift, but through the significance of the emerald. Lapidary books are numerous as are the properties of gemstones. Emeralds were believed to avert panic or repel demons, increase riches, strengthen memory or bring joy.

Description:
Gold ring with a flat hoop, slightly rounded on the exterior with engraved foliage and trefoil-shaped ends. Set in these are three table-cut emeralds in box settings with foliate surrounds. The bezel is riveted onto a flat circular base and consists of a hemispherical form with table-cut emerald and arched borders in relief along the base. The ring is in good wearable condition. 

Literature:
Similar rings are in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid (see: exh. cat. La Joyería Española de Felipe II a Alfonso XIII, 1998, no. 120). For variants of the type, cf. an example in the Hashimoto Collection (Scarisbrick 2004, no. 241) and for the foliate type settings a ring in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. vol. 1, no. 947).  For the different colors of emeralds traded in the seventeenth century, see: Hazel Forsyth, The Cheapside Hoard, The London’s Lost Jewels, London 2012, pp. 134 – 135.  

Reference number: 870

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