Tart Mold Ring with Garnet
A classically beautiful Gothic ring set with a polished garnet en cabochon, embodying the so-called Tart Mold style popular in Medieval Europe.
Delicate gold hoop with D-section and slightly widening at the shoulders. The shoulders support an irregular hexagonal-shaped bezel with rounded corners set with a cabochon garnet. The underside is flat, and the sides straight. The setting suggests the gemstone may have been replaced but the stone is old and appears to date contemporary with the setting. The ring shows ordinary signs of age and is in good wearable condition.
In the Middle Ages throughout Western Europe rings with gemstones were most popular and these were en cabochon, in their natural form, but polished. Each stone had a special meaning for the wearer - love, magic, protection, and so forth. The stones came either from Europe, like the garnet here, or were imported from faraway countries in the Far East. Because of the shape of the bezel, this particular type of ring is either described as a "pie-dish" or "tart mold" ring. These date around the 12th to 13th century depending on their slightly varying shapes. Interestingly such rings can be found in various Western European countries; the style was international.
For comparable examples with slight variations, cf. rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Bury 1984, Plate 25 G); British Museum (Dalton 1912, no. 1772-1774); the Nationalmuseum Copenhagen (see Lindahl 2003, no. 100, 101 and 103), the Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Collection (published in Haedeke 2000, nos. 135); the Hashimoto Collection (published in Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 112, 113). See a ring found at Buckland Priory, Somerset (Oman 1974, Plate 18B) and one found in the grave of a bishop in Whithorn Cathedral (Oman 1974, Plate 16 E).