Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Seljuq Ring with Sapphire

Iran, 12th – 13th century

Gold, sapphire

  • 55.800 €
  • £50,000
  • $65,000
  • Seljuq Ring with Sapphire

    Iran, 12th – 13th century
    Gold, sapphire
    Weight 6.1 gr., US size 5.75, UK size L 1/4

    This gold ring is made of sheet metal. The hoop with D-section widens towards the shoulders. The inside is plain, and the exterior is ornamented with engravings and appliqués in relief, along with a four-lobed sprue at the bottom and, on the shoulders, arabesque-like foliage. On both sides, a triangular, capital-like form supports the rectangular bezel, the truncated sides of which are engraved with stylized floral decoration. Four claws hold a cushion-cut sapphire.

    This was a royal ring, resonant in its form with Western medieval bishops’ rings. This cannot be attributed to direct influence, but it is fascinating to see that sculpted shoulders, claw settings, and sapphires commanded a similar reverence across these cultures. Certain aspects of this ring are characteristic of the jewelry produced in the Seljuq Empire, a vast medieval Turko-Persian empire that originated in the eleventh century and ranged at its zenith from western China to the Mediterranean.

     

    Reference number: 507

  • Sapphire

    Precious gemstone (a type of corundum like the ruby), the sapphire ranges in color from blue to pink to yellow to green to white to purple (mauve sapphire) to pink-orange. Along with Sri Lanka, during the Middle Ages, Burma started selling its sapphire to India.

    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.

    Hoop

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

    Gemstone

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

  • Early Medieval

    Early Medieval finger-rings, or rings from the so-called Migration era, occupy a class by themselves. Distinctly different from those prevalent in Antiquity, they are also of great rarity most likely because they are products of a chaotic period characterized by invasion not cultural fluorescence.

    Tribal cultures–the Goths, the Visigoths, the Lombards, the Franks, the Ostrogoths, the Huns, etc.–wore their wealth as they moved from place to place. The persistence of Roman techniques can be seen in the intricate filigree and granulation of their gold work; however as the importance of the stone grew, the prominence of the bezel increased so that the beautiful uncut stone projected high above the finger. Rings of the projecting bezel type are found among the Lombards, the Ostrogoths, and the Franks. Another type, the spiral ring (already a form favored by the Celts), adopted by the Anglo-Saxons recalls the interlace of contemporary illuminated manuscripts. There are braided, twisted, and coiled examples. A small group of Anglo-Saxon rings also preserve niello decoration on flat or articulated bezels depicting mythic beasts, spirals, and other motifs.

    In Gaul, the Merovingians preferred a flat bezel on which designs could be engraved, whether they be portraits of the owner such as appears on the famous ring of the king Childerich or complex, difficult-to-decipher monograms, or animals. From the same historical milieu comes the intricate and imposing architectural ring, sometimes adorned with a cabochon garnet at the top of the bezel. The latter recalls on a minute scale Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel at Aachen with its rotunda form, arched galleries circling the central space, and dome. New types of byzantinizing forms, such as cloisonné work, came with the political stability of the Carolingian and Ottonian empires, and it is worth remembering that Otto II married a Byzantine princess.

    Much of the evidence for the origins and the dating of Early Medieval Merovingian rings is archaeological. Rings decorated with shaved garnets, for example, come from sites that follow the route of the invasions of Attila the Hun (died 453) from Hungary to Gaul. Sometimes archaeological evidence suggests the gender of a wearer, as in the case of an architectural ring from the Guillou Collection buried in the tomb of a woman. Often, it provides important, independent means of dating, for hoards included dated coins, as well as other items made from precious metals.

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Seljuq Ring with Sapphire

Iran, 12th – 13th century
Gold, sapphire
Weight 6.1 gr., US size 5.75, UK size L 1/4

USD $65,000

This gold ring is made of sheet metal. The hoop with D-section widens towards the shoulders. The inside is plain, and the exterior is ornamented with engravings and appliqués in relief, along with a four-lobed sprue at the bottom and, on the shoulders, arabesque-like foliage. On both sides, a triangular, capital-like form supports the rectangular bezel, the truncated sides of which are engraved with stylized floral decoration. Four claws hold a cushion-cut sapphire.

This was a royal ring, resonant in its form with Western medieval bishops’ rings. This cannot be attributed to direct influence, but it is fascinating to see that sculpted shoulders, claw settings, and sapphires commanded a similar reverence across these cultures. Certain aspects of this ring are characteristic of the jewelry produced in the Seljuq Empire, a vast medieval Turko-Persian empire that originated in the eleventh century and ranged at its zenith from western China to the Mediterranean.

 

Reference number: 507

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