Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Renaissance Ring with Quatrefoil Bezel

Western Europe, late 16th century

Gold, rock crystal, enamel

  • 22.400 €
  • £19,200
  • $25,000
  • Renaissance Ring with Quatrefoil Bezel

    Western Europe, late 16th century
    Gold, rock crystal, enamel
    Weight 4.4 gr.; circumference: 54.51 mm.; US size 7; UK size O

    A Renaissance ring with a diamond, a rock crystal, or even translucent glass was often given as a betrothal or wedding ring due to its symbolic meaning.  Love jewels were often set with diamonds to symbolize constancy and virtue, qualities associated with matrimony and a happy life of togetherness. The quatrefoil-shaped bezel evolved from the earlier cusped form, and it continued to be popular from the second half of the sixteenth century through to the early seventeenth century. It is often the detail of the ornament and the colors of the enamels which reveal a more precise date.  Because goldsmiths travelled through Europe, as did pattern books with printed designs, it is almost impossible to attribute the place of origin.

    Description:
    The narrow gold rounded hoop widens towards the shoulders with scroll ends in opaque white, blue, and red enamel. The underside of the bezel is rounded and plain gold, and on top the quatrefoil sides hold a table-cut rock crystal. The curved side panels have symmetrical acanthus foliage ornaments in gold against black enamel and white outlined borders. Except for enamel missing mainly on the hoop ends through normal wear and age the ring is in good condition.

    Literature:
    For variants of the type cf. examples in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour, 1994, vol. I, nos. 678-687). Similar settings and enamel colors can be found in a drawing of a pendant in the Medici Collection (Maria Sframeli, I gioelli dei Medici dal vero e in ritratto, Florence 2003, no. 34).

    Reference number: 717

  • 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.

    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 .

    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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Renaissance Ring with Quatrefoil Bezel

Western Europe, late 16th century
Gold, rock crystal, enamel
Weight 4.4 gr.; circumference: 54.51 mm.; US size 7; UK size O

USD $25,000

A Renaissance ring with a diamond, a rock crystal, or even translucent glass was often given as a betrothal or wedding ring due to its symbolic meaning.  Love jewels were often set with diamonds to symbolize constancy and virtue, qualities associated with matrimony and a happy life of togetherness. The quatrefoil-shaped bezel evolved from the earlier cusped form, and it continued to be popular from the second half of the sixteenth century through to the early seventeenth century. It is often the detail of the ornament and the colors of the enamels which reveal a more precise date.  Because goldsmiths travelled through Europe, as did pattern books with printed designs, it is almost impossible to attribute the place of origin.

Description:
The narrow gold rounded hoop widens towards the shoulders with scroll ends in opaque white, blue, and red enamel. The underside of the bezel is rounded and plain gold, and on top the quatrefoil sides hold a table-cut rock crystal. The curved side panels have symmetrical acanthus foliage ornaments in gold against black enamel and white outlined borders. Except for enamel missing mainly on the hoop ends through normal wear and age the ring is in good condition.

Literature:
For variants of the type cf. examples in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour, 1994, vol. I, nos. 678-687). Similar settings and enamel colors can be found in a drawing of a pendant in the Medici Collection (Maria Sframeli, I gioelli dei Medici dal vero e in ritratto, Florence 2003, no. 34).

Reference number: 717

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