A fine Medieval gold ring set with an ancient drilled garnet.
Probably English, 13th century.
Ring size T UK / 9.5 US.
The garnet measures 1.1 x 0.6cm.
The ring comes from a Private English Collection.
The claw-set garnet has a subtly concaved polished dish to the centre of the gem, a technique traditionally used to remove a blemish or inclusion in the surface. The purity of the hue of the gemstone was seen as essential in order to strengthen the power of the amuletic purpose of the ring. Before the garnets use within the present ring, it was originally worked in the Byzantine or an earlier period when it was drilled and polished into the form of a bead to be worn on a necklace.
Gemstones were highly valued in the medieval world, sapphires, rubies, garnets, amethysts and rock crystal being the most commonly used. Diamonds were highly valued but much less common. Rings were worn in great numbers at all levels of society, although gold and garnets would have been restricted to the wealthy. In the English Act of 1363, an attempt was made to limit the wearing of gold and silver rings to richer noblemen, although we cannot know how effective these laws were.
For a similar ring, also set with an earlier drilled gemstone albeit a sapphire, can be found in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Accession number; 644-1871.
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