A popular style of Gothic ring, appearing in the 13th century and continuing into the 14th, the circular hoop finely decorated at the shoulders with three incised saltire crosses with stamped ring and dot infill decoration, the raised bezel Haedecke refers to as a “beaker” type (Oman calls it “cup-shaped”), because the bezel is in the form of a conical beaker; the stone is cut on the sides to fit securely into the beaker and then polished on the top. Here, it is set with a sapphire cabochon, and flanked by four smaller emerald collets.
The stones set into rings often had special significance or were worn for their properties of protection. Hildegard Von Bingen wrote in the 12th century on the powers and benefits of gemstones and recommends sapphire worn in a ring to remove wrath from the heart of the wearer. She cautions, though:
If this stone is placed in a ring of the purest gold, without tin, and there is nothing but gold under the stone, then a person may place the stone in his mouth as medicine, and it will not harm him. If anyhting but pure gold is in it, then it is of no use, and one should not place it in his mouth because the ring is harmful.
As they were imported from India, sapphires were very rare in medieval Europe, so were subsequently reserved for royalty, upper nobility or high-ranking clergy. They were said to hold magical protective powers, especially against poison.
Condition: Three missing collet emeralds replaced, otherwise in as found condition, overall intact and in excellent condition. A very charming piece.
Dimensions: USA ring size: 7 1/4, UK size 'L', 19mm diam
Provenance: Found in Winterborne Kingston, Dorset, 2010. Recorded with the UK Portable Antiquities Scheme as DOR-53B494. Legally imported into the USA in 2011.
All photos copyright Kornbluth Photography