Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Totentanz Ring by Claude Lévêque

France, 2015

Eighteen-carat gold

  • 7.300 €
  • £6,500
  • $8,500
  • Totentanz Ring by Claude Lévêque

    France, 2015
    Eighteen-carat gold
    Weight 4.8 gr., US size 8, UK size Q

    This delicate ring in polished eighteen-carat gold has a hoop with D-section which forks at the shoulder on one side and on the other is slightly thicker at the end to support the openwork bezel. The bezel takes the form of an abstract image of a head shaped from wire. Inside the hoop along the shoulder is the engraved signature, “Claude Lévêque,” and the edition number, “2/10.” On the exterior of the hoop is the French warranty mark for gold with an eagle facing to the right. in the modern age, metal is twisted to form a figurative image instead of a geometric one, an animated skull that recalls the “Dance of Death,” an allegory of the omnipresence of death, its inevitability, and the vanities of the present life. The Dance of Death first appeared in the arts in the fifteenth century and illustrated people of all ranks of society. The design of this ring follows the outlines of a spontaneous drawing made by the designer’s grandson, Romaric Etienne, at the age of 14. In fact, Lévêque has created many of his artworks with the assistance of friends, family, and children. Nearly all of his wall installations with neon light sentences are initially handwritten by his mother, who has a trembling hand.

    Reference number: 781

  • Carat (or Karat)

    The unit of measure for gold and gemstones (abbreviation: ct. or kt.). One carat weighs 0.2 gram (1/5 of a gram or 0.0007 ounce). A hundredth of a carat is called a point . The carat unit was introduced in 1907 (24 kt. is 100% gold; 18 kt. 75% gold; 14 kt. 58.3% gold; and 10 kt. 41.7% gold).

    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.

  • Later

    It is virtually impossible to do justice to the evolution of jewelry from the Baroque period (c. 1700) to Modern times in a short synopsis, but these are a few highlights. Many of the functional aspects of finger-rings continued: they served for betrothal and marriage, for signing and family identification, for memorial purposes, as well as for pure ornament. However, some new types of rings emerge during this period: such as puzzle rings, gimmick rings, perfume rings, and rings that celebrated scientific achievements (e.g., watch rings) are but a few of the examples.

    This time span witnesses the emergence of the “archaeological style,” of which the work of Fortunato Pio Castellani in the 1830s to 1860s is a particularly well-known example, one that fits in the Neo-Classical period. We see the flourishing of other styles related to artistic movements in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These include Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, both beginning around the 1880s, and Art Deco in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It also covers the emergence of some of the most famous twentieth-century houses of jewelry, such as Cartier, Charmet, Boucheron, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mellerio, to mention only a few. Jewelry historians responsible for exhibitions in major museums have begun to trace the historical contributions and characterize the styles of jewelry, including rings, not only of these different artistic movements, but also of these great houses.

    Two other sometimes-overlapping categories of later jewelry are of significant import. The first category, “artist jewelry,” consists of jewelry by artists mostly known for their work in other media, such as Picasso, Calder, Dali, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein, Anish Kapoor, and many others. The second category, “studio jewelry” includes work by modern and contemporary goldsmiths. Among those practicing today of special mention are Wendy Ramshaw and others belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company in London, dedicated to continuing the craft since it received its first royal charter in 1327. Others of different national origins include the Italian Giovanni Corvaja (handled by Adrian Sassoon in London), the American Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR of Paris (whose international exhibition was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2013), Otto Jakob of Germany, and the newcomer Wallace Chan of China. The experienced viewer-collector, as well as the newcomer to the field, can begin to learn about modern jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with its dedicated jewelry gallery and specialized curator, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, and the private collection of Alice and Louis Koch.

  • ring
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ring

Totentanz Ring by Claude Lévêque

France, 2015
Eighteen-carat gold
Weight 4.8 gr., US size 8, UK size Q

USD $8,500

This delicate ring in polished eighteen-carat gold has a hoop with D-section which forks at the shoulder on one side and on the other is slightly thicker at the end to support the openwork bezel. The bezel takes the form of an abstract image of a head shaped from wire. Inside the hoop along the shoulder is the engraved signature, “Claude Lévêque,” and the edition number, “2/10.” On the exterior of the hoop is the French warranty mark for gold with an eagle facing to the right. in the modern age, metal is twisted to form a figurative image instead of a geometric one, an animated skull that recalls the “Dance of Death,” an allegory of the omnipresence of death, its inevitability, and the vanities of the present life. The Dance of Death first appeared in the arts in the fifteenth century and illustrated people of all ranks of society. The design of this ring follows the outlines of a spontaneous drawing made by the designer’s grandson, Romaric Etienne, at the age of 14. In fact, Lévêque has created many of his artworks with the assistance of friends, family, and children. Nearly all of his wall installations with neon light sentences are initially handwritten by his mother, who has a trembling hand.

Reference number: 781

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