Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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RENAISSANCE GEMSTONE RING

Northern Italy, 16th century

Gold, garnet and enamel

  • 17.000 €
  • £15,500
  • $20,000
  • RENAISSANCE GEMSTONE RING

    Northern Italy, 16th century
    Gold, garnet and enamel
    Weight 4 gr; circumference 60 mm; US size 9; UK size R½

    This elegant ring is typical of the Renaissance, with its elaborate design that combines a gemstone in a high bezel, sculptural elements at the shoulders and colorful enamels. Such rings appear in16th-century pattern books by Virgil Solis, Etienne Delaune and Pierre Woeriot, which circulated widely. Quatrefoil, cinquefoil, and hexafoil bezels were the most characteristic settings for gems at the time, but the type of box bezel set above the hoop on a cushion-like base, as seen here, was almost as popular. Strongly emphasized shoulders, ornate with sculptural details and bright enamels that enhanced the beauty of the stone and the luster of gold, complemented these elaborate settings. During the Renaissance, the ring developed into a miniature work of art, combining the skills of the chaser, engraver, and enameller as well as the stonecutter.

    Description
    The high bezel, set with a table-cut garnet, is chased with five arches placed atop a moulded base with six compartments enamelled in red. The shoulders of the otherwise plain hoop are ornate with volutes, guilloche and white and red enamel now partially missing. The back of the bezel has been chased and was formerly enamelled.

    Literature
    For comparison, see the Zucker Family Collection (a gold ring, the hoop terminating at baluster shoulders supporting a quatrefoil bezel, the lower sections of the petals with ornament enamelled white, set with a cabochon ruby, published in Scarisbrick, 2007, n. 334) and the Hashimoto Collection (a late 16th century gold ring, the hoop terminating in winged shoulders enamelled red and white and supporting a raised box bezel set with a rectangular-cut ruby, placed on a cushion-like base, the back of the bezel chased and with traces of enamel, published in Scarisbrick, 2004, n. 158). See also the British Museum (a gold ring set with a ruby, similar in design with a cushion-like base and high bezel, published in Dalton, 1912, n. 1909).

    Reference number: 337-2

  • 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

  • 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 .

    Gemstone

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

  • 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 GEMSTONE RING

Northern Italy, 16th century
Gold, garnet and enamel
Weight 4 gr; circumference 60 mm; US size 9; UK size R½

USD $20,000

This elegant ring is typical of the Renaissance, with its elaborate design that combines a gemstone in a high bezel, sculptural elements at the shoulders and colorful enamels. Such rings appear in16th-century pattern books by Virgil Solis, Etienne Delaune and Pierre Woeriot, which circulated widely. Quatrefoil, cinquefoil, and hexafoil bezels were the most characteristic settings for gems at the time, but the type of box bezel set above the hoop on a cushion-like base, as seen here, was almost as popular. Strongly emphasized shoulders, ornate with sculptural details and bright enamels that enhanced the beauty of the stone and the luster of gold, complemented these elaborate settings. During the Renaissance, the ring developed into a miniature work of art, combining the skills of the chaser, engraver, and enameller as well as the stonecutter.

Description
The high bezel, set with a table-cut garnet, is chased with five arches placed atop a moulded base with six compartments enamelled in red. The shoulders of the otherwise plain hoop are ornate with volutes, guilloche and white and red enamel now partially missing. The back of the bezel has been chased and was formerly enamelled.

Literature
For comparison, see the Zucker Family Collection (a gold ring, the hoop terminating at baluster shoulders supporting a quatrefoil bezel, the lower sections of the petals with ornament enamelled white, set with a cabochon ruby, published in Scarisbrick, 2007, n. 334) and the Hashimoto Collection (a late 16th century gold ring, the hoop terminating in winged shoulders enamelled red and white and supporting a raised box bezel set with a rectangular-cut ruby, placed on a cushion-like base, the back of the bezel chased and with traces of enamel, published in Scarisbrick, 2004, n. 158). See also the British Museum (a gold ring set with a ruby, similar in design with a cushion-like base and high bezel, published in Dalton, 1912, n. 1909).

Reference number: 337-2

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