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Very Rare Late Medieval Sapphire Ring


Imagine a ring (or any object for that matter) that is still with us after almost 500 years. How it managed to survive is amazing, and more so if only we knew every step of its journey to us.

From the medieval years of the 14th through the 15th century, a natural lilac hued cabochon sapphire is set closed back in a yellow gold mount of around 14k. At this point in time the only type of gem cutting was the cabochon cut with its flat bottom and rounded top. Faceting was not as yet practiced although the natural octahedron (the natural crystalline form) of the diamond was in use. Furthermore during this time frame, the bezel (the metal that secures the stone) was rubbed over the edges of the gem and resulted in a thin film of gold remaining on the sides. In addition, the manner in which rings were worn differed somewhat with being worn on any finger and at times worn at the second joint of the finger as well.

This very rare example displays what Charles Oman author of “British Rings 800 - 1914” believed of the medieval sapphire: “The sapphire…is worthy of the finger of a king…” The curve in the cabochon was formed by rubbing and polishing the stone with minerals and elements harder than the sapphire. Sometimes the substance was crushed and ground into fine sand and used as a rubbing, i.e. polishing substance.

For similar examples see plate 75 item D in Oman’s "British Rings" and plate 56 for two rings. In addition, page 29 of "Rings, Symbols of Wealth, Power and Affection" by Diana Scarisbrick, has another similar ring displayed.

Date: 14th – 15th century.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 5/16 of an inch (0.9 cm) in length north to south on the hand and rises 3/16 of an inch (0.6 cm) in height off the finger. Weight of 2.3 grams (1.5 dwt).

Ring Size: US 7-1/2 (UK O-1/2; Euro or Int. Circum. 55.7 mm; Int. Dia. 17.7 mm; Japan 15) and easilycan be sized to fit most. Ring sizing information.

Condition: Excellent for its age; some wear to the sapphire which can be seen with close inspection; slightly out of round; general light overall wear.

Origin: European, possibly English.

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