Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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A DELICATE RING WITH HONEY-COLORED GLASS IMITATING AMBER, PRIZED FOR ITS MEDICINAL PROPERTIES AND AS A GOOD LUCK TALISMAN

Western Europe (probably England or France), 12th - 13th century

Gold, honey-colored glass

  • 4.600 €
  • £4,100
  • $5,500
  • A DELICATE RING WITH HONEY-COLORED GLASS IMITATING AMBER, PRIZED FOR ITS MEDICINAL PROPERTIES AND AS A GOOD LUCK TALISMAN

    Western Europe (probably England or France), 12th - 13th century
    Gold, honey-colored glass
    Weight 2.9 gr.; bezel 10.4x11.7 mm.; circumference: 62.8 mm.; US size 10.25; UK size U½

    In the Middle Ages throughout Western Europe rings with gemstones were most popular. Because of its shape and resemblance to pie dishes, the type has either been described as a “pie-dish” setting or even “tart mold” ring. An early example of such a ring is the one which once belonged to Bishop Ranulf Flambard, who died in 1128. It was found in his tomb in Durham Cathedral. Other early examples are those from the Lark Hill Hoard found near Worcester from 1173-4 (today in the British Museum) The ring type remained popular through to the fourteenth century; the simplicity of the setting, even if slightly varied in ornament, enhanced the cabochon shapes of the gemstones which were favored at the time, and often had a personal meaning for the wearer.  Other examples from treasures and hoards of the 12th century Dolphin Inn Hoard, in Cambridge (now Trinity College Library).

    Description
    This gold ring has a delicate, slightly rounded hoop which supports a rectangular bezel. The underside is flat and the top has a low pyramidal shape set with a cabochon of honey-colored glass, probably imitating amber. The setting suggests that the gemstone may have been replaced some time during its long history, maybe on the wish of a later owner. The gemstone shows signs of age as also the ring itself. The ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature
    For comparable rings of this type with varying shaped bezels and decoration, see the British Museum (published in Oman 1974, plate 14, A & B); the Nationalmuseum Copenhagen (see Lindahl, 2003, no. 87), the Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Collection (published in Haedeke 2000, nos. 135); the Hashimoto Collection (published in Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 111, 114, 119); the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (published in Chadour 1994, no. 560); Hindman 2007, no. 17.

    Reference number: 458

  • 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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A DELICATE RING WITH HONEY-COLORED GLASS IMITATING AMBER, PRIZED FOR ITS MEDICINAL PROPERTIES AND AS A GOOD LUCK TALISMAN

Western Europe (probably England or France), 12th - 13th century
Gold, honey-colored glass
Weight 2.9 gr.; bezel 10.4x11.7 mm.; circumference: 62.8 mm.; US size 10.25; UK size U½

USD $5,500

In the Middle Ages throughout Western Europe rings with gemstones were most popular. Because of its shape and resemblance to pie dishes, the type has either been described as a “pie-dish” setting or even “tart mold” ring. An early example of such a ring is the one which once belonged to Bishop Ranulf Flambard, who died in 1128. It was found in his tomb in Durham Cathedral. Other early examples are those from the Lark Hill Hoard found near Worcester from 1173-4 (today in the British Museum) The ring type remained popular through to the fourteenth century; the simplicity of the setting, even if slightly varied in ornament, enhanced the cabochon shapes of the gemstones which were favored at the time, and often had a personal meaning for the wearer.  Other examples from treasures and hoards of the 12th century Dolphin Inn Hoard, in Cambridge (now Trinity College Library).

Description
This gold ring has a delicate, slightly rounded hoop which supports a rectangular bezel. The underside is flat and the top has a low pyramidal shape set with a cabochon of honey-colored glass, probably imitating amber. The setting suggests that the gemstone may have been replaced some time during its long history, maybe on the wish of a later owner. The gemstone shows signs of age as also the ring itself. The ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature
For comparable rings of this type with varying shaped bezels and decoration, see the British Museum (published in Oman 1974, plate 14, A & B); the Nationalmuseum Copenhagen (see Lindahl, 2003, no. 87), the Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Collection (published in Haedeke 2000, nos. 135); the Hashimoto Collection (published in Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 111, 114, 119); the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (published in Chadour 1994, no. 560); Hindman 2007, no. 17.

Reference number: 458