Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring

Renaissance Signet Ring with Helmeted Fish and Initials “R*S”

Western Europe, late 15th to early 16th century

Gold

  • 19.200 €
  • £16,900
  • $22,000
  • Renaissance Signet Ring with Helmeted Fish and Initials “R*S”

    Western Europe, late 15th to early 16th century
    Gold
    Weight 13.3 gr.; bezel 16.2 x 12.9 mm.; circumference 62.86 mm.; US size 10 ¼; UK size U

    The octagonal bezel with engraved line and punched dot frame surrounds a shield with a fish and crested helmet. Above are the initials “R*S” in reverse. The interior of the hoop is plain, and it is flat on the exterior with beveled edges and increasing in width at the shoulders. As new trade routes encouraged widespread commerce during the Renaissance, the middle classes began to wear signet rings, previously restricted to the nobility as signs of rank and authority. For tradesmen, signet rings served as a utilitarian means of authentication in the exchange of documents, property, or merchandise. Pressed into hot sealing wax, the inverted imagery with initials would print correctly, conferring legal sanctity on a transaction. We have been unable to identify the family crest of this ring; perhaps the fish is meant to evoke symbolically a surname.

    Reference number: 879

  • 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.

    Engraving

    Technique of cutting patterns into a surface with a sharp tool; an impression made from the cut surface shows the design of the incised lines in reverse (hence intaglio).

  • 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.

     

  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
ring

Renaissance Signet Ring with Helmeted Fish and Initials “R*S”

Western Europe, late 15th to early 16th century
Gold
Weight 13.3 gr.; bezel 16.2 x 12.9 mm.; circumference 62.86 mm.; US size 10 ¼; UK size U

USD $22,000

The octagonal bezel with engraved line and punched dot frame surrounds a shield with a fish and crested helmet. Above are the initials “R*S” in reverse. The interior of the hoop is plain, and it is flat on the exterior with beveled edges and increasing in width at the shoulders. As new trade routes encouraged widespread commerce during the Renaissance, the middle classes began to wear signet rings, previously restricted to the nobility as signs of rank and authority. For tradesmen, signet rings served as a utilitarian means of authentication in the exchange of documents, property, or merchandise. Pressed into hot sealing wax, the inverted imagery with initials would print correctly, conferring legal sanctity on a transaction. We have been unable to identify the family crest of this ring; perhaps the fish is meant to evoke symbolically a surname.

Reference number: 879

You might also like

  • Signet Ring with Double-headed Eagle

    Western Europe (Germany or Austria ?), c. 1700

  • Signet Ring with True Lover’s Knot and the Initials “AI”

    England, 17th century

  • RING WITH GARNET CABOCHON

    Western Europe, probably England, late 13th-14th century

  • Ring with Renaissance Cameo

    Probably Northern Italy, cameo late 16th-early 17th century; ring: second half 18th century

  • Hellenistic Ring with Amphora

    Greece, 2nd – 1st century BC

  • Byzantine Glass and Pearl Ring

    Byzantium, early 6th century AD

  • Ruby and Zircon Band Ring

    Northern India, late 19th century

  • Ring with the God Krishna

    India, probably Calcutta, c. 1900-1915

  • Magic Ring of the Karo Batak

    Indonesia, North Sumatra, late 19th century

  • Art Nouveau Ophelia Ring

    France, 1909

  • Watch Ring by Brédillard

    France, Paris, c. 1900-1910

  • “LOVE” Ring by Robert Indiana

    United States, 1969

  • Ionic Capital Rings by Stanley Tigerman

    United States and Italy, 1986-1987

  • Totentanz Ring by Claude Lévêque

    France, 2015

  • Jewish Wedding Ring

    Central or Eastern Europe, 18th century

  • Mourning Ring

    England, 1820

  • Gold Ring with the Standing Virgin and Child and Openwork Band

    Early Byzantine, late 7th-early 8th century

  • Gold Ring with Engraved Warrior Saint (George?) and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-650 AD

  • Gold Ring with Engraved Virgin and Child and Inscription

    Byzantine Empire, 6th-7th century AD

  • Gold Ring with Personification of Constantinople

    Early Byzantine, c. 500-600 AD

  • Gold Ring with the Monogram of Zeno

    Early Byzantine, c. 450-500 AD

  • Electrum (or possibly Silver Gilt) Ring with Eagle and Monogram

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Visigothic Ring with Cruciform Monogram

    Gaul or Iberia, 7th century AD

  • Garnet Cabochon Ring

    England, 13th century

  • Renaissance Rock Crystal Ring

    Western Europe, about 1580-1600

  • Diamond Cluster Ring

    Spain, c. 1660-1680

  • Posy Ring, "God hath me sent my harts content"

    England, early 18th century

  • Iconographic Ring

    England, c. 1450-1500

  • Ruby Cluster Ring

    Probably Italy, c. 1680-1700

  • Byzantine Gemstone Ring Set with an Amethyst

    Byzantium, c. 500 AD

  • Byzantine Gemstone Ring Set with an Emerald

    Byzantium, early 6th century

  • Swivel Ring with Portrait of Napoleon in a Crystal Locket

    France, c. 1815

  • Byzantine Gold Ring with Cruciform Monogram and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, Eastern Mediterranean, 7th century

  • Renaissance Enameled Ring Set with Emeralds

    Western Europe (France?), c. 1550-1600

  • Renaissance Gimmel Ring with Ruby and Emerald

    Germany, dated 1571

  • Baroque Enameled Ring set with Rubies and an Emerald

    Western Europe (Spain or Italy?), c. 1650

  • Eighteenth-Century Ring Set with Diamonds and Enameled Playing Cards

    Probably France, c. 1750-80

  • Roman or Byzantine Ring with Double-Bezel Set with a Tourmaline and an Emerald

    Roman Empire or Byzantium, 4th-5th century AD

  • Baroque Ring with Skull Carved from a Human Tooth and Snakes Set with Diamonds and Rubies

    Central Europe, 18th century