Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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ITALIAN GLASS DECORATIVE RING

Italy, 17th century

Gold and foiled glass

  • 8.200 €
  • £7,300
  • $9,500
  • ITALIAN GLASS DECORATIVE RING

    Italy, 17th century
    Gold and foiled glass
    Weight 4.4 g; circumference 57.6 mm; size: US 8¼; UK Q

    The attention paid to gems over the goldsmith’s settings prevailed in the first half of the seventeenth-century. Examples of this new fashion in jewelry are evident in items from the Cheapside Hoard and in design books from across Baroque Europe. Often, as with the present ring, the gems were highlighted by their rosette style settings.

    Description
    Gold sexfoil bezel set with six diamond-shaped and table cut glass stones over foil. Each petal is interspersed with a round rock crystal bead, with a seventh in the center. The back of the bezel is sculpted to emphasize the floral shape of the ring. A fine D-ring hoop terminates in fluted shoulder molded to the underside of the second and fourth petals. The foils have oxidized to green on each petal with the exception of the fourth petal where the foil now appears a rust color. The ring is in very good condition.

    Literature
    An almost identical setting for a hat ornament was found in the Cheapside Hoard (Museum of London A14082; see Princely Magnificence, Victoria and Albert Museum 1981, p. 25 and Forsyth, London, 2013). These rosette designs may have been inspired by Merovingian jewelry (see for example a fibula conserved in Saint-Omer; Le Nord de la France de Theodose à Charles Martel, 1984, p. 59). The faux-cloisonné structure and use of foil under glass certainly point to a Merovingian model. An enameled English ring similar in design is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Oman 1993, number 319a, p. 72). Rings with similar attention to the under-bezel are published in a variety of sources. See for instance, no. 184 in Scarisbrick 2004. 

    Reference number: 322-3

  • Rock crystal

    Transparent , crystalline mineral, rock crystal is the purest form of quartz and a semi-precious stone. Rock crystal came from Germany, Switzerland, and France 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

  • Bezel

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

    Foil

    Thin metal backing for gems to increase their brilliance, used from Antiquity through the Renaissance with precious stones as well as glass.

  • 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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ITALIAN GLASS DECORATIVE RING

Italy, 17th century
Gold and foiled glass
Weight 4.4 g; circumference 57.6 mm; size: US 8¼; UK Q

USD $9,500

The attention paid to gems over the goldsmith’s settings prevailed in the first half of the seventeenth-century. Examples of this new fashion in jewelry are evident in items from the Cheapside Hoard and in design books from across Baroque Europe. Often, as with the present ring, the gems were highlighted by their rosette style settings.

Description
Gold sexfoil bezel set with six diamond-shaped and table cut glass stones over foil. Each petal is interspersed with a round rock crystal bead, with a seventh in the center. The back of the bezel is sculpted to emphasize the floral shape of the ring. A fine D-ring hoop terminates in fluted shoulder molded to the underside of the second and fourth petals. The foils have oxidized to green on each petal with the exception of the fourth petal where the foil now appears a rust color. The ring is in very good condition.

Literature
An almost identical setting for a hat ornament was found in the Cheapside Hoard (Museum of London A14082; see Princely Magnificence, Victoria and Albert Museum 1981, p. 25 and Forsyth, London, 2013). These rosette designs may have been inspired by Merovingian jewelry (see for example a fibula conserved in Saint-Omer; Le Nord de la France de Theodose à Charles Martel, 1984, p. 59). The faux-cloisonné structure and use of foil under glass certainly point to a Merovingian model. An enameled English ring similar in design is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Oman 1993, number 319a, p. 72). Rings with similar attention to the under-bezel are published in a variety of sources. See for instance, no. 184 in Scarisbrick 2004. 

Reference number: 322-3

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