Lion's Share: Intaglio Ring c. 1900
The origins of heraldry began around the 1st century C. E. with a soldier carrying into battle a shield bearing a symbol that represented his affiliation and allegiance. This continued into the 14th century when the practice was furthered with a personal insignia embroidered on the surcoat worn over the suit of armor. Thus began the use of the term “coat of arms”.
Very handsomely displayed in a mount of 14k rose gold is an intaglio carved into nicolo--a black and white hardstone in which the layers are carved and used artistically to help define and enhance a design. The stone is typically crafted with white on the surface and the form incised into the blacker layers of the stone.
With this antique ring, the white layers have been polished to such a degree that the surface has almost become a misty gray and the intaglio carved into the black. Appearing above the helm or helmet is the crest of a lion rampant. The shield elements feature an additional lion, a stripe and two stars. The lion traditionally represents dauntless courage, bravery and valor; the stars symbolize nobility and the stripe a valiant knight. Unusually shaped shoulders add to the meaning and dignity of the piece.
Measures 5/8 of an inch (1.6 cm) across and rises 1/8 of an inch (0.3 cm) from the finger. Currently a size US 8 (British P-1/2; Euro 18.25, 57.5 mm) and weighs 7.9 grams. In very good condition; minor edge wear to the stone; upon close inspection evidence of previous sizing on exterior of back of shank and on interior where gold is a tad imperfect. Dates to circa 1900.