Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Renaissance Gemstone Ring

Western Europe, late 16th century to early 17th century

Gold, ruby, and enamel

  • 29.600 €
  • £26,600
  • $35,000
  • Renaissance Gemstone Ring

    Western Europe, late 16th century to early 17th century
    Gold, ruby, and enamel
    Weight 4.0 gr.; bezel 7.9 x 7.3 mm.; circumference: 53.4 mm.; US size 6.75; UK size N½

    To judge from the number of examples that survive to the present, enameled rings with high box bezels were enormously successful among aristocratic patrons from the second half of the sixteenth century up through the first half of the seventeenth century.  The bright green, white, blue, and red enamel on this ring’s shoulders is comparable with examples from the late sixteenth century.

    Description
    The smooth hoop of this elegant ring transitions to the box bezel by means of a shoulder formed into curling acanthus foils and strapwork inlaid with enamels in green, blue, white, and translucent redThe square bezel securing a step-cut ruby ascends from a dark-blue base through successive architectonic moldings articulated with colored enamel and incised ornament.  Each side of the uppermost level of molding is further adorned with a pair of petal-like cusps and with a pair of letters, GE, HY, TE, and IV (added later?).  The ring retains most of its enamel decoration, and is in excellent condition.

    Literature
    For comparisons, see the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (published in Chadour 1994, nos. 689, 690, 691), for a variant on this ring with two stones, see the Zucker Collection (published in Scarisbrick 2007, no. 330), the Ashmolean Museum (published in Scarisbrick and Henig 2003, plate 19, nos. 3 & 4), the British Museum (published in Dalton 1912, 1908, 1909).

    Reference number: 362-3

  • 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.

    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 .

    Hoop

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

  • 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

Western Europe, late 16th century to early 17th century
Gold, ruby, and enamel
Weight 4.0 gr.; bezel 7.9 x 7.3 mm.; circumference: 53.4 mm.; US size 6.75; UK size N½

USD $35,000

To judge from the number of examples that survive to the present, enameled rings with high box bezels were enormously successful among aristocratic patrons from the second half of the sixteenth century up through the first half of the seventeenth century.  The bright green, white, blue, and red enamel on this ring’s shoulders is comparable with examples from the late sixteenth century.

Description
The smooth hoop of this elegant ring transitions to the box bezel by means of a shoulder formed into curling acanthus foils and strapwork inlaid with enamels in green, blue, white, and translucent redThe square bezel securing a step-cut ruby ascends from a dark-blue base through successive architectonic moldings articulated with colored enamel and incised ornament.  Each side of the uppermost level of molding is further adorned with a pair of petal-like cusps and with a pair of letters, GE, HY, TE, and IV (added later?).  The ring retains most of its enamel decoration, and is in excellent condition.

Literature
For comparisons, see the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (published in Chadour 1994, nos. 689, 690, 691), for a variant on this ring with two stones, see the Zucker Collection (published in Scarisbrick 2007, no. 330), the Ashmolean Museum (published in Scarisbrick and Henig 2003, plate 19, nos. 3 & 4), the British Museum (published in Dalton 1912, 1908, 1909).

Reference number: 362-3

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