Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Marriage Ring

Southern Europe or Latin America, late 18th century

Gold, rock crystal with foil, rubies, black enamel

  • 2.100 €
  • £1,800
  • $2,500
  • Marriage Ring

    Southern Europe or Latin America, late 18th century
    Gold, rock crystal with foil, rubies, black enamel
    Weight 4.5 gr.; circumference 59.1 mm.; US size 9; UK size R½

    Traditionally the ruby was symbolic of love and the diamond of virtue and constancy. Over centuries this classical combination of gemstones was typically used for betrothal rings or those given during a wedding ceremony. The symbolism of the ruby and diamond reflected a long and happy married life in matrimony.  Rock crystal or glass imitations for diamonds, or lesser stones with underlying foils to simulate rubies, represented more affordable substitutes. Rings with a larger central stone flanked by clusters of stones became fashionable in the late seventeenth century, but continued into the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. This ring type was fashionable in Southern Europe, mainly in countries such as Italy or Spain, and as far away as the Spanish Colonies.

    Description
    The narrow gold band forks at the shoulders and is adorned with an acanthus ornament in relief.  The larger oval, tapered setting in the center with stylized acanthus border has a table-cut rock crystal stone with underlying silver foil. Flanked on either side are three mound-shaped settings with deeply embedded table-cut rubies and bases with notched borders imitating a wire border.    

    Literature
    For similar Spanish examples in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid, see: La Joyería Espaňola de Felipe II a Alfonso XIII, no. 120.  For 18th century prototypes or similar settings, cf. in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (Chadour 1994, nos. 880, 881, 883) and nineteenth-century versions (nos. 1342, 1345). For the setting type, cf. a variation in the Hashimoto Collection (Scarisbrick 2004, no. 241).

    Reference number: 698

  • Rubies

    Precious stones and a member of the corundum family, rubies range in color from the classic deep red to pink to purple to brown. Rubies are extremely hard; only diamonds are harder. Rubies were mined in Burma and sold through India in the Middle Ages to the Mediterranean.

    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

  • 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 .

    Foil

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

  • Later

    It is virtually impossible to do justice to the evolution of jewelry from the Baroque period (c. 1700) to Modern times in a short synopsis, but these are a few highlights. Many of the functional aspects of finger-rings continued: they served for betrothal and marriage, for signing and family identification, for memorial purposes, as well as for pure ornament. However, some new types of rings emerge during this period: such as puzzle rings, gimmick rings, perfume rings, and rings that celebrated scientific achievements (e.g., watch rings) are but a few of the examples.

    This time span witnesses the emergence of the “archaeological style,” of which the work of Fortunato Pio Castellani in the 1830s to 1860s is a particularly well-known example, one that fits in the Neo-Classical period. We see the flourishing of other styles related to artistic movements in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These include Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, both beginning around the 1880s, and Art Deco in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It also covers the emergence of some of the most famous twentieth-century houses of jewelry, such as Cartier, Charmet, Boucheron, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mellerio, to mention only a few. Jewelry historians responsible for exhibitions in major museums have begun to trace the historical contributions and characterize the styles of jewelry, including rings, not only of these different artistic movements, but also of these great houses.

    Two other sometimes-overlapping categories of later jewelry are of significant import. The first category, “artist jewelry,” consists of jewelry by artists mostly known for their work in other media, such as Picasso, Calder, Dali, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein, Anish Kapoor, and many others. The second category, “studio jewelry” includes work by modern and contemporary goldsmiths. Among those practicing today of special mention are Wendy Ramshaw and others belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company in London, dedicated to continuing the craft since it received its first royal charter in 1327. Others of different national origins include the Italian Giovanni Corvaja (handled by Adrian Sassoon in London), the American Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR of Paris (whose international exhibition was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2013), Otto Jakob of Germany, and the newcomer Wallace Chan of China. The experienced viewer-collector, as well as the newcomer to the field, can begin to learn about modern jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with its dedicated jewelry gallery and specialized curator, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, and the private collection of Alice and Louis Koch.

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Marriage Ring

Southern Europe or Latin America, late 18th century
Gold, rock crystal with foil, rubies, black enamel
Weight 4.5 gr.; circumference 59.1 mm.; US size 9; UK size R½

USD $2,500

Traditionally the ruby was symbolic of love and the diamond of virtue and constancy. Over centuries this classical combination of gemstones was typically used for betrothal rings or those given during a wedding ceremony. The symbolism of the ruby and diamond reflected a long and happy married life in matrimony.  Rock crystal or glass imitations for diamonds, or lesser stones with underlying foils to simulate rubies, represented more affordable substitutes. Rings with a larger central stone flanked by clusters of stones became fashionable in the late seventeenth century, but continued into the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. This ring type was fashionable in Southern Europe, mainly in countries such as Italy or Spain, and as far away as the Spanish Colonies.

Description
The narrow gold band forks at the shoulders and is adorned with an acanthus ornament in relief.  The larger oval, tapered setting in the center with stylized acanthus border has a table-cut rock crystal stone with underlying silver foil. Flanked on either side are three mound-shaped settings with deeply embedded table-cut rubies and bases with notched borders imitating a wire border.    

Literature
For similar Spanish examples in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid, see: La Joyería Espaňola de Felipe II a Alfonso XIII, no. 120.  For 18th century prototypes or similar settings, cf. in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (Chadour 1994, nos. 880, 881, 883) and nineteenth-century versions (nos. 1342, 1345). For the setting type, cf. a variation in the Hashimoto Collection (Scarisbrick 2004, no. 241).

Reference number: 698