Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Diamond Cluster Ring

Spain, c. 1660-1680

Gold, diamonds, enamel

  • 14.100 €
  • £12,700
  • $16,000
  • Diamond Cluster Ring

    Spain, c. 1660-1680
    Gold, diamonds, enamel
    Weight 5.3 gr.; circumference 57.15 mm., US size 8, UK size Q

    Pliny, the Roman Naturalist and author of “Natural History” wrote in the first century AD “The diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.” Through its history the diamond was admired for its extreme hardness and translucency. By the fifteenth century the earliest known betrothal or wedding rings with this gemstone became known and soon fashionable. In Renaissance and Baroque Europe diamonds, at the time sourced from India have been associated with enduring love and were symbolic of constancy and virtue. Its symbolism and function in an engagement or wedding jewel continues today. Throughout the seventeenth century the diamond cuts became ever more elaborate, the light refraction increased to create an amazing sparkle in the glow of candlelight.

    Description:
    Gold ring with D-section hoop, plain on the interior and on the exterior engraved and enameled (only traces survive of black enamel) with swirling acanthus scrolls on the shoulders. The bezel with central oval setting and scalloped border holds a rose-cut diamond and flanked on either side are three diamond-set floral style settings. Black enamel arcading ornament the bezel sides. The enamel is in parts missing due to age and wear; the ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    Cluster rings—or seven stone rings—became popular in the seventeenth century and replaced a larger single gemstone creating a more affordable solution and one ornamental in design. By this period in Western Europe diamonds were set in silver to enhance the whiteness of the stone; however, in Spain it continued to be fashionable to set them in gold. For similar ring designs, set with diamonds, but also rubies and emeralds, see examples in: Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, nos. 768-770) and Hashimoto Collection, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 186 and 188). For further examples, cf. Scarisbrick 1993, p. 96; Scarisbrick 2007, nos. 441-442. 

    Reference number: 878

  • Diamond

    Precious, lustrous gemstones made of highly-compressed carbon, diamonds are one of the hardest materials known. Colors of diamonds range from colorless, yellow, orange, brown, to almost black. Rarer colors are red, blue, green, and purple; these colors (called fancies) are quite valuable. The largest-known gem-quality diamonds include the Cullinan (e. g., the Star of Africa, 530.20 carats), the Excelsior , the Great Mogul (an ancient Indian diamond which is said to have originally weighed 787.5 carats, but its location is unknown), the Darya-i-Nur , the Koh-i-Nur , and the Hope diamond (named for a purchaser, Henry Thomas Hope).

    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.

    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 .

  • 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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Diamond Cluster Ring

Spain, c. 1660-1680
Gold, diamonds, enamel
Weight 5.3 gr.; circumference 57.15 mm., US size 8, UK size Q

USD $16,000

Pliny, the Roman Naturalist and author of “Natural History” wrote in the first century AD “The diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.” Through its history the diamond was admired for its extreme hardness and translucency. By the fifteenth century the earliest known betrothal or wedding rings with this gemstone became known and soon fashionable. In Renaissance and Baroque Europe diamonds, at the time sourced from India have been associated with enduring love and were symbolic of constancy and virtue. Its symbolism and function in an engagement or wedding jewel continues today. Throughout the seventeenth century the diamond cuts became ever more elaborate, the light refraction increased to create an amazing sparkle in the glow of candlelight.

Description:
Gold ring with D-section hoop, plain on the interior and on the exterior engraved and enameled (only traces survive of black enamel) with swirling acanthus scrolls on the shoulders. The bezel with central oval setting and scalloped border holds a rose-cut diamond and flanked on either side are three diamond-set floral style settings. Black enamel arcading ornament the bezel sides. The enamel is in parts missing due to age and wear; the ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
Cluster rings—or seven stone rings—became popular in the seventeenth century and replaced a larger single gemstone creating a more affordable solution and one ornamental in design. By this period in Western Europe diamonds were set in silver to enhance the whiteness of the stone; however, in Spain it continued to be fashionable to set them in gold. For similar ring designs, set with diamonds, but also rubies and emeralds, see examples in: Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, nos. 768-770) and Hashimoto Collection, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 186 and 188). For further examples, cf. Scarisbrick 1993, p. 96; Scarisbrick 2007, nos. 441-442. 

Reference number: 878

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