Renaissance Marriage Ring
With elaborate raised enamel shoulders and fine box bezel set with a single rock crystal, this exquisite Renaissance ring is a precursor to the popular solitaire marriage ring.
This gold hoop with D-section widens towards shoulders that end in elaborate scrolls. These are surmounted on each side by cartouche-like ornaments in opaque white enamel, topped with leaves in translucent green. The underside of the square bezel forms a flat inverted pyramid with black enameled rays. Two triangular tabs link the hoop with the bezel. The latter has a double-stepped base with black and opaque green enamel and a thick table-cut rock crystal in a box setting.
This ring is an antecedent of the solitaire marriage ring. Evidence of the diamond being worn as a betrothal or marriage ring dates back to the thirteenth century. William Durand (c. 1230-1296), the Bishop of Mende and an ecclesiastical authority, proclaimed that women should wear an iron ring with a diamond as a sign of their married status. In the High Renaissance, rings like this one were often set with a diamond, or, alternatively, with a rock crystal. Whereas diamonds came mostly from the faraway Golconda mines in India, rock crystals could be obtained in Europe, for example in the Alpine regions.