Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Emerald Cluster Ring

Spain, c. 1680-1700

Gold, emeralds, enamel

  • 16.700 €
  • £14,700
  • $20,000
  • Emerald Cluster Ring

    Spain, c. 1680-1700
    Gold, emeralds, enamel
    Weight 13.7 gr.; bezel 19.7 x 30.1 mm.; circumference 59.37 mm.; US size 9, UK size R ¾

    After the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492 rich sources of gold, silver, pearls, and emeralds were found. When the Spanish conquerors stormed the magnificent palaces of Montezuma (c. 1466-1520) descriptions followed of the walls being studded with pearls and emeralds. By 1564 in the small towns of Muzo and Chivor the Spaniards found the famous emerald mines that continued to yield quantities of this gemstone well into the eighteenth century. These emeralds were highly prized for their quality and color and sought after beyond the boundaries of Europe. The Mughal princes of India were keen to possess Columbian emeralds which they amassed and had finely carved. By the seventeenth century in Spain emeralds became most fashionable and were worn as a sign of their Colonial power, and the green color was later imitated in green glass in regional jewelry. Emeralds were thought to be symbolic of hope, and perhaps a ring like this was given as a marriage gift or token of love with a look to a couple’s future.

    Description:
    The gold ring has a hoop with D-section, plain on the interior and engraved with a frieze of scrolling acanthus against black enamel. The bezel is formed of a central table-cut emerald surrounded by a double cluster studded with emeralds and on either side three emeralds, like a flower with foliage the settings are engraved to look, like petals. The tapered sides of the bezel have an arcade of black enamel with tiny white dots of white enamel along the base. The enamel is missing in parts, due to age and use. The ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    Clusters of gemstones on rings were popular in the seventeenth century and continued into the eighteenth century. Early examples of ones with emeralds can be found in the Cheapside Hoard, Museum of London (Forsyth, 2013, pp. 134-5, 1620-40). However the style of the settings with finely engraved foliage shapes enclosing table-cut emeralds are typically Spanish as found on a pendant in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Phillips 2008 (first published 2000), p. 50-1). For variants of the cluster type, cf. rings dating from 1680 onwards in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. I, nos. 768, 769, 878, 879) and in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid (cat. La Joyería Espaňola de Felipe II a Alphonse XIII, Madrid 1998, no. 120). The fine enameled scroll ornament on the hoop and the elaborate style of cluster dates to 1680-1700 and for a similar ring worn by a Spanish Lady in a portrait of 1660, see: Scarisbrick 1993, pp. 94-5.

    Reference number: 816

  • 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

  • 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 .

    Hoop

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

    Bezel

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

    Engraving

    Technique of cutting patterns into a surface with a sharp tool; an impression made from the cut surface shows the design of the incised lines in reverse (hence intaglio).

    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.

     

  • 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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Emerald Cluster Ring

Spain, c. 1680-1700
Gold, emeralds, enamel
Weight 13.7 gr.; bezel 19.7 x 30.1 mm.; circumference 59.37 mm.; US size 9, UK size R ¾

USD $20,000

After the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492 rich sources of gold, silver, pearls, and emeralds were found. When the Spanish conquerors stormed the magnificent palaces of Montezuma (c. 1466-1520) descriptions followed of the walls being studded with pearls and emeralds. By 1564 in the small towns of Muzo and Chivor the Spaniards found the famous emerald mines that continued to yield quantities of this gemstone well into the eighteenth century. These emeralds were highly prized for their quality and color and sought after beyond the boundaries of Europe. The Mughal princes of India were keen to possess Columbian emeralds which they amassed and had finely carved. By the seventeenth century in Spain emeralds became most fashionable and were worn as a sign of their Colonial power, and the green color was later imitated in green glass in regional jewelry. Emeralds were thought to be symbolic of hope, and perhaps a ring like this was given as a marriage gift or token of love with a look to a couple’s future.

Description:
The gold ring has a hoop with D-section, plain on the interior and engraved with a frieze of scrolling acanthus against black enamel. The bezel is formed of a central table-cut emerald surrounded by a double cluster studded with emeralds and on either side three emeralds, like a flower with foliage the settings are engraved to look, like petals. The tapered sides of the bezel have an arcade of black enamel with tiny white dots of white enamel along the base. The enamel is missing in parts, due to age and use. The ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
Clusters of gemstones on rings were popular in the seventeenth century and continued into the eighteenth century. Early examples of ones with emeralds can be found in the Cheapside Hoard, Museum of London (Forsyth, 2013, pp. 134-5, 1620-40). However the style of the settings with finely engraved foliage shapes enclosing table-cut emeralds are typically Spanish as found on a pendant in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Phillips 2008 (first published 2000), p. 50-1). For variants of the cluster type, cf. rings dating from 1680 onwards in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. I, nos. 768, 769, 878, 879) and in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid (cat. La Joyería Espaňola de Felipe II a Alphonse XIII, Madrid 1998, no. 120). The fine enameled scroll ornament on the hoop and the elaborate style of cluster dates to 1680-1700 and for a similar ring worn by a Spanish Lady in a portrait of 1660, see: Scarisbrick 1993, pp. 94-5.

Reference number: 816

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