Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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LIKE A DIAMOND, THIS SHIMMERING CRYSTAL SET IN GOLD WAS A BEAUTIFUL REMINDER OF ETERNAL LOVE

France?, early 17th century

gold and rock crystal

  • 2.200 €
  • £2,000
  • $2,500
  • LIKE A DIAMOND, THIS SHIMMERING CRYSTAL SET IN GOLD WAS A BEAUTIFUL REMINDER OF ETERNAL LOVE

    France?, early 17th century
    gold and rock crystal
    Bezel 6 x 8 x 5 mm.; circumference 47 mm.; weight 1.6 gr.

    This pretty table-cut rock crystal ring has foil underneath the stone and is opened at the sides for greater luminosity.  It is a simple and pure type of the box bezel, perfect for a small hand or a pinkie finger, even if the enamel might have been partially renewed. This is a development of the box bezel type of Renaissance ring that evolves from the cusped ring c. 1500 and goes out of fashion by c. 1600, when it is replaced by the cluster ring. 

    Description
    Rectangular box bezel set with a table-cut and foiled rock crystal, “ajouré” at the sides and closed at the back; hoop, flat on the interior, round on the exterior, ridged on the shoulders; a floral prong extending from the shoulders to the bezel. White and black enamel repaired; else in excellent condition.

    Literature
    For comparisons, see London, V&A Museum, A14228 (from the Cheapside Hoard; published in Oman, 1974, IIIF, with jewelry buried before the mid-17th century and including comparable enameled pieces). 

    Reference number: 302

  • Bezel

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

    Gemstone

    Gemstone (also called a precious stone) is a mineral that is valuable, rare and often beautiful.

    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.

     

    Hoop

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

    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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LIKE A DIAMOND, THIS SHIMMERING CRYSTAL SET IN GOLD WAS A BEAUTIFUL REMINDER OF ETERNAL LOVE

France?, early 17th century
gold and rock crystal
Bezel 6 x 8 x 5 mm.; circumference 47 mm.; weight 1.6 gr.

USD $2,500

This pretty table-cut rock crystal ring has foil underneath the stone and is opened at the sides for greater luminosity.  It is a simple and pure type of the box bezel, perfect for a small hand or a pinkie finger, even if the enamel might have been partially renewed. This is a development of the box bezel type of Renaissance ring that evolves from the cusped ring c. 1500 and goes out of fashion by c. 1600, when it is replaced by the cluster ring. 

Description
Rectangular box bezel set with a table-cut and foiled rock crystal, “ajouré” at the sides and closed at the back; hoop, flat on the interior, round on the exterior, ridged on the shoulders; a floral prong extending from the shoulders to the bezel. White and black enamel repaired; else in excellent condition.

Literature
For comparisons, see London, V&A Museum, A14228 (from the Cheapside Hoard; published in Oman, 1974, IIIF, with jewelry buried before the mid-17th century and including comparable enameled pieces). 

Reference number: 302