Antique ring with a portrait diamond & "Lover's Eye" miniature, circa 1900 & later
A special and at the same time very rare diamond cut is the so-called portrait cut, also called "Mirror Diamond": Unlike other cuts, this flat cut does not emphasize the pure fire and brilliance of the gemstone, but its purity and transparency. The cut originated in India, whose legendary Golconda mines produced diamonds of incomparable clarity. In Western jewellery it is very rarely found, and when it is, it is usually instead of a glazing over a precious miniature, whose sentimental value is thus once again ennobled. It is therefore not surprising that portrait diamonds are usually attributed to owners of the nobility. Few famous pieces of jewellery use such a portrait-cut diamond: for example, a neo-Gothic style bracelet from around 1825 showing a portrait of Tsar Alexander I under the largest known portrait diamond, known as "The Russian Portrait" (State Diamond Fund, Moscow). The Met Museum in New York houses the "Duchess of Devonshire Portrait Diamond", which protects the portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire in an early 19th century heart-shaped brooch (Accession No. 2019.22). Queen Charlotte also received a ring with his portrait under a diamond for her wedding to King George III in 1761 (Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 52211). Our ring also sets a miniature covered by a transparent white diamond in a frame of old-cut diamonds. The ring shoulders have also been crafted in silver and show black enamel accents. The fine ring band, on the other hand, is made entirely of gold. Which miniature was originally centre of ring is unknown, because the ring reached us in incomplete status. However, we had an antique eye miniature fitted into the ring in our workshop, because this miniature of an eye reflects an exciting chapter in the history of jewellery: Jewelry with so-called "lover's eye" miniatures represented a legendary fashion in the late 18th and early 19th century. According to the narrative, this began when the future King George IV fell in love with Mary Fitzherbert. The two entered into a secret marriage in 1785, but it was not recognized by the court due to Fitzherbert's affiliation with the lower nobility and Catholicism. Politically forced to marry Caroline of Brunswick, George IV nevertheless throughout his life considered Maria Fitzherbert his true wife, "the wife of my heart and soul." He is said to have worn a miniature of her loving eye under his lapel to secretly express his true feelings - she received from him the so-called "Maria Fitzherbert Jewel", a pendant with his portrait under a portrait diamond, very similar to the one we see in our ring. Thus, our ring today is a reminder of this romantic story and of the origin of "Lover's Eye" jewelry as secret tokens of love and loyalty. The ring that came to us from southern Germany is very well preserved and an incredibly rare piece of jewelry that is as collectible as it is actually wearable.
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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.
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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.