Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring

Medieval Gemstone Ring with Garnet

Probably France, late 15th century-early 16th century

Gold and garnet

  • 7.600 €
  • £6,800
  • $9,000
  • Medieval Gemstone Ring with Garnet

    Probably France, late 15th century-early 16th century
    Gold and garnet
    Weight 4 gr.; circumference: 51.21 mm.; US size 5.75; UK size L ¼

    During the early Renaissance in Western Europe such magnificent gold rings set with colorful gemstones would have been worn by a person of high status. In court portraits of the period such as those painted by Roger van der Weyden and Gerard David, the wearer often does not have the ring on his finger; instead he rather ostentatiously holds it up in front of him as an attribute of rank. Red and blue color variations were most popular in the choice of gems, in particular rubies or garnets and sapphires. Whilst in the Middle Ages gemstones were left in their natural form and simply polished as rounded cabochons, technology developed and the gem-cutter explored the refractions of light and gemstones were facetted. The table-cut was the early preferred shape. The choice of tone and color was personal to the wearer, depending on his or her beliefs in the magical, medicinal, or symbolic properties these valued gems had.    

    Description:
    The wide gold hoop is flat inside and rounded on the outside; it increases in width towards the shoulders and finally merges into the bezel. This is formed of a quatrefoil-shaped cusped setting which holds a table-cut garnet. The ring is in good wearable condition.   

    Literature:
    By the late 14th century the claw settings begin to develop into cusped settings which then become fashionable in the 15th and early 16th centuries: cf. some examples in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Scarisbrick/ Henig 2003, pp. 30 and 44) and in the Hashimoto Collection (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 117 and 118). See also Oman 1974, Plate 18 C and 20A). The goldsmith portrayed by Gerard David, 1505-10, today in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, presents five such cusped bezel rings with mainly blue and red gemstones.

    Reference number: 763

  • Garnet

    Any of a group of semi-precious silicate stones that range in color from red to green (garnets occur in all colors but blue). The pyrope is the familiar deep red garnet. Garnets were plentiful in Europe, and vary significantly in quality; they were mined in Bohemia and elsewhere 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

  • 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.

  • Gothic

    With the rise of towns and the establishment of a money economy in western Europe, the fabrication of rings grew into an urban trade. In 1180, the Goldsmith's Company was founded in London, and in 1200, Jean de Garlande describes the craftsmen setting jewels into rings on the Grand Pont in Paris. Certain new types of rings evolved and were commercially made in large numbers for all levels of society. In France in 1283, then in London in 1337, 1363, and 1463, and elsewhere, sumptuary laws were passed forbidding townspeople from wearing precious stones, but it is unlikely these regulations were strictly observed.

    Medieval rings are typically set with uncut but polished stones (called cabochons) because the stone itself was considered God's creation, not to be altered artificially by man. For the same reason, there was a taboo about the mixing of colors in the workshops of painters and their assistants. Two types of rings abound in the Gothic era. The first is the stirrup ring, made in the shape of a horse's stirrup and nearly always set with a cabochon sapphire. Many of these have been discovered in the tombs of the bishops for whom they were made. The second is the tart mold ring, adorned with different precious stones in a box or circular setting the underside of which resembles a pie plate. Other types of rings also proliferate: for example, nominative rings with circular inscriptions used for sealing, black letter rings with amatory sayings on the bands, iconographic rings with standing figures of saints that served to protect the wearer, etc. Claw and box settings both occur in Gothic rings, but eventually the claw setting naturally evolves into the most popular late Gothic type of gemstone ring, the cusped ring, in which the collet consists of decorated lobes between the remnants of claws. It is this type of ring that continues into the early Renaissance and occurs in Gerard David's painting.

    An art history of medieval rings has yet to be written (see, however, Hindman et al., 2007), but a few preliminary observations can nevertheless be made. The streamlined form of the stirrup ring, arching upward to the bezel that forms an integral part of it, recalls the aesthetic of the unification of the wall in Gothic cathedrals with the ribs springing seamlessly to the arched vaults. Tart mould rings take inspiration from the architectonic forms of capitals and their bases. The ridged bezel of the iconographic ring adorned with standing saints in niello reiterates in miniature format the closed wings of a painted altarpiece, its figures painted in grisaille. Iconographic rings, as well as other devotional types of rings, find their parallels in the suffrages, or prayers of protection to special saints that accompany Books of Hours.

  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
ring

Medieval Gemstone Ring with Garnet

Probably France, late 15th century-early 16th century
Gold and garnet
Weight 4 gr.; circumference: 51.21 mm.; US size 5.75; UK size L ¼

USD $9,000

During the early Renaissance in Western Europe such magnificent gold rings set with colorful gemstones would have been worn by a person of high status. In court portraits of the period such as those painted by Roger van der Weyden and Gerard David, the wearer often does not have the ring on his finger; instead he rather ostentatiously holds it up in front of him as an attribute of rank. Red and blue color variations were most popular in the choice of gems, in particular rubies or garnets and sapphires. Whilst in the Middle Ages gemstones were left in their natural form and simply polished as rounded cabochons, technology developed and the gem-cutter explored the refractions of light and gemstones were facetted. The table-cut was the early preferred shape. The choice of tone and color was personal to the wearer, depending on his or her beliefs in the magical, medicinal, or symbolic properties these valued gems had.    

Description:
The wide gold hoop is flat inside and rounded on the outside; it increases in width towards the shoulders and finally merges into the bezel. This is formed of a quatrefoil-shaped cusped setting which holds a table-cut garnet. The ring is in good wearable condition.   

Literature:
By the late 14th century the claw settings begin to develop into cusped settings which then become fashionable in the 15th and early 16th centuries: cf. some examples in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Scarisbrick/ Henig 2003, pp. 30 and 44) and in the Hashimoto Collection (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 117 and 118). See also Oman 1974, Plate 18 C and 20A). The goldsmith portrayed by Gerard David, 1505-10, today in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, presents five such cusped bezel rings with mainly blue and red gemstones.

Reference number: 763

You might also like

  • Renaissance Gemstone Ring

    England, 15th century

  • Renaissance Cusped Emerald Ring

    Western Europe , 16th century

  • Late Roman or Early Medieval Ring with Garnet

    Italy? 6th-7th century

  • RING WITH GARNET CABOCHON

    Western Europe, probably England, late 13th-14th century

  • Ring with Renaissance Cameo

    Probably Northern Italy, cameo late 16th-early 17th century; ring: second half 18th century

  • Hellenistic Ring with Amphora

    Greece, 2nd – 1st century BC

  • Byzantine Glass and Pearl Ring

    Byzantium, early 6th century AD

  • Ruby and Zircon Band Ring

    Northern India, late 19th century

  • Ring with the God Krishna

    India, probably Calcutta, c. 1900-1915

  • Magic Ring of the Karo Batak

    Indonesia, North Sumatra, late 19th century

  • Art Nouveau Ophelia Ring

    France, 1909

  • Watch Ring by Brédillard

    France, Paris, c. 1900-1910

  • “LOVE” Ring by Robert Indiana

    United States, 1969

  • Ionic Capital Rings by Stanley Tigerman

    United States and Italy, 1986-1987

  • Totentanz Ring by Claude Lévêque

    France, 2015

  • Jewish Wedding Ring

    Central or Eastern Europe (Hungary?), 19th century

  • Jewish Wedding Ring

    Central or Eastern Europe, 18th century

  • Mourning Ring

    England, 1820

  • Signet Ring with Double-headed Eagle

    Western Europe (Germany or Austria ?), c. 1700

  • Gold Ring with a Glass Cameo of a Cross

    Early Byzantine, c. 6th-7th century AD

  • Gold Gemstone Ring with Garnet Intaglio of a Cruciform Monogram

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Gold Ring with a Cruciform Monogram and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Gold Ring with the Standing Virgin and Child and Openwork Band

    Early Byzantine, late 7th-early 8th century

  • Gold Ring with Engraved Warrior Saint (George?) and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-650 AD

  • Gold Ring with Engraved Virgin and Child and Inscription

    Byzantine Empire, 6th-7th century AD

  • Gold Ring with Personification of Constantinople

    Early Byzantine, c. 500-600 AD

  • Gold Ring with the Monogram of Zeno

    Early Byzantine, c. 450-500 AD

  • Electrum (or possibly Silver Gilt) Ring with Eagle and Monogram

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Masquerade Ring

    Western Europe, Italy, c. 1760

  • Visigothic Ring with Cruciform Monogram

    Gaul or Iberia, 7th century AD