Ruby Cluster Ring
Set with multiple stones, often table cut, cluster rings resemble an array of flowers and are found in many Renaissance portraits of the period. Emeralds, garnets, diamonds, and rock crystals are all popular stones used in cluster rings; on this one, the deep hue of the reddish purple rubies conveys a sense of luxury that echoes the velvet robes of the period.
Gold ring with D-section hoop slightly widened towards the bezel and plain on the interior. The shoulders are engraved with acanthus foliage and traces of black enamel. The raised center holds a facetted garnet in oval hemispherical setting with semi-circular arches along the rim. It is surrounded by six table-cut rubies in floral settings. An arcade of black enameled arches with white dots runs along the tapered sides of the bezel. Minor loss of enamel is the result of age and wear; the ring is in good wearable condition.
The ruby was traditionally symbolic of love typically found on betrothal rings, or those given during a wedding ceremony. The red color that was desired for its symbolism. The design imitates a flower, here a red rose, sacred to the goddess of love Venus. Rings with a larger central stone flanked by clusters of gemstones became fashionable in the late seventeenth century. Here the deep reddish-purple hue of the stones echoes the colors and recalls the texture of the lush velvet garments of the period.
For cluster rings of this type, cf. variants in the following collections: British Museum, London (Dalton 2027 and 2028); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Church 2011, fig. 63); Alice and Louis Koch Collection, in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, nos. 780-781); the Hashimoto Collection, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 183).