Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Renaissance Rock Crystal Ring

Western Europe, about 1580-1600

Gold, rock crystal, enamel

  • 14.900 €
  • £13,200
  • $17,500
  • Renaissance Rock Crystal Ring

    Western Europe, about 1580-1600
    Gold, rock crystal, enamel
    Weight 9.0 gr.; circumference 57.65 mm; US size 8 1/2; UK size Q 1/2

    In Renaissance Europe the betrothal or wedding ring included a diamond, or alternatively a rock crystal. This custom goes back as far as the thirteenth century and is similar to the popular solitaire diamond ring today. The shape of the ring itself symbolized eternity, and the diamond virtue and constancy in marriage. Diamonds at the time came from the Golconda mines in faraway India, whilst rock crystals with their translucency and whiteness resembling diamonds were mined in Europe, foremost in the Alpine regions of Switzerland, southern Germany, and France. Renaissance goldsmiths drew the inspiration for their jewelry designs from ornamental prints and published design books. These books traversed borders as much as the jewelers who worked in various European countries. Thus, the style becomes pan European and the attribution almost impossible.

    Description:
    Gold ring with a D-section hoop widening to the capital-shaped shoulders with elaborate scrollwork and black and blue enamel. These support the underside of the rectangular bezel with an inverted pyramidal base and hatched pattern showing traces of black enamel. The box setting with edging in blue enamel and a lobed rim in black enamel holds a table-cut rock crystal stone. Traces and loss of enamel through age and wear. The ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    Similar rings set with either diamonds, rubies or rock crystal can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, no. 672); Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Cologne (Chadour and Joppien 1985, vol. II, no. 251); Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna (inv. no. F 653) and in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol.1, no. 689) and in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (Stolleis and Himmelheber 1977, no. 81 found in the burial chamber of the Countess Palatine Catharina Sophia, who died in 1608). 

    Reference number: 862

  • 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 .

    Hoop

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

    Bezel

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

    Band

    A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

    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 Rock Crystal Ring

Western Europe, about 1580-1600
Gold, rock crystal, enamel
Weight 9.0 gr.; circumference 57.65 mm; US size 8 1/2; UK size Q 1/2

USD $17,500

In Renaissance Europe the betrothal or wedding ring included a diamond, or alternatively a rock crystal. This custom goes back as far as the thirteenth century and is similar to the popular solitaire diamond ring today. The shape of the ring itself symbolized eternity, and the diamond virtue and constancy in marriage. Diamonds at the time came from the Golconda mines in faraway India, whilst rock crystals with their translucency and whiteness resembling diamonds were mined in Europe, foremost in the Alpine regions of Switzerland, southern Germany, and France. Renaissance goldsmiths drew the inspiration for their jewelry designs from ornamental prints and published design books. These books traversed borders as much as the jewelers who worked in various European countries. Thus, the style becomes pan European and the attribution almost impossible.

Description:
Gold ring with a D-section hoop widening to the capital-shaped shoulders with elaborate scrollwork and black and blue enamel. These support the underside of the rectangular bezel with an inverted pyramidal base and hatched pattern showing traces of black enamel. The box setting with edging in blue enamel and a lobed rim in black enamel holds a table-cut rock crystal stone. Traces and loss of enamel through age and wear. The ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
Similar rings set with either diamonds, rubies or rock crystal can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Taylor and Scarisbrick 1978, no. 672); Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Cologne (Chadour and Joppien 1985, vol. II, no. 251); Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna (inv. no. F 653) and in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol.1, no. 689) and in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (Stolleis and Himmelheber 1977, no. 81 found in the burial chamber of the Countess Palatine Catharina Sophia, who died in 1608). 

Reference number: 862

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