Gemstone Ring with Amethyst
Elegant late Renaissance ring with its original beautifully facetted amethyst and with a finely engraved and enameled hoop.
Gold ring with D-shaped hoop and engraved on the shoulders an oval shield surrounded by foliage. The hoop ends with traces of opaque white enamel and black dots expand to form a high octagonal bezel set with a multi-facetted “Stuart cut” amethyst. The bezel with white enamel and black specks has gold sprigs and leaf-like ornaments in translucent green enamel. Unlike the bezel the enamel along the shoulders is largely missing through wear, a solder point at the bottom of the hoops suggests the size was altered at a later date. The ring is in good wearable condition.
For rings of the second half of the seventeenth century with a similar design and proportion, cf. examples in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol.1, no. 758 and 760) and a related type, with a rectangular-shaped bezel in the Hashimoto Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, no. 197).
The style of enameling is French which was en vogue at the time. This is showcased by Gilles Legaré, the goldsmith to Louis XIV, who published in 1663 ornamental drawings of rings with elaborate designs and ornate patterns for enamels, these became inspirational and popular, see: Scarisbrick 1993, pp. 92-3.
The intricately facetted “Stuart cut” amethyst may have been chosen for its decorative quality or as a favorite color of the wearer. However, from Antiquity amethysts were believed to have magical properties as an antidote against intoxication, nightmares, or melancholia, in medieval times clerics and later royalty wore amethysts as a symbol of status. Its symbolism was a personal choice.