Turbulent times

Baroque diamond ring in gold & silver, early 18th century

The ring here, a sparkling bow, is a precious testament to a distant past. Made of gold with a silver face, the ring is set with ruby-colored glass pastes and three diamonds. Two rose cut diamonds and one table cut diamond, in the center of the ring, small, yet prominently placed. The central diamond is surrounded by a sculpted oval of silver, the edge of which is decorated with scalloped ornamentation. In English-language literature, this form of setting is referred to as "pie crust". It emerges in the course of the 17th century, at first always entirely of gold. Then, towards the end of the century, corresponding rings are also made with fronts of silver, when diamonds are set in. The goldsmiths had understood that the colour of the precious stones would show up better in a white metal. The last illustration shows an example from the late 17th century [1]. The large diamond is shaped in a table cut. This cut was first encountered in Europe in the 15th century and remained the standard cut for a long time. It was too difficult to extract further facets from the diamond, the material was too precious. In addition, the diamond was coveted primarily because of its hardness and the associated associations of eternity and strength. Its substantive meaning was thus more important than its sparkle. Larger diamonds with a greater number of facets only became more common in the 18th century, after the large diamond deposits in Brazil were discovered [2]. Finally, the side view of the ring reveals more details. The underside of the ring head also shows delicate engravings that emanate like rays from the center of the element, which is made of gold; the ring rail is also intricately ornamented. This ornamentation allows the ring to be dated with certainty to the early 18th century. In this period, it replaced the enamel that had been common at these points on the rings until then [3]. Despite its great age, the ring, which was made about 300 years ago, is well preserved. The central diamond broke at some point over the generations, but holds securely in its setting. The stone could easily be replaced, but we have chosen to leave the piece unaltered. While it is a European ring type, the literature to date does not offer a more specific location. We discovered it in London. Evidence [1] On the form of the "pie crust" ring, see Sandra Hindman et al: Cycles of Life: Rings from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection, London 2014, pp. 232f.; the example illustrated here with enamelling in Heinz Battke, Die Geschichte des Ringes, Baden-Baden 1953, cat. No. 94 (cf. last ill. above left; on p. 71 additionally with further literature references). 2] Cf. ibid., p. 234, as well as Jack Ogden: Diamonds. An Early History of the King of Gems, New Haven/London 2018, pp. 136f. 3] Cf. in this connection the collection of Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke: Schmuck aus drei Jahrtausenden. Sammlung Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke, Cologne 2000, p 295f, as well as ring no 888 in Anna Beatriz Chadour: Ringe. The Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Leeds 1994.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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