If you take a moment to reflect, you can actually watch the history of jewelry unfold as you saunter through the paintings in most museums. Perhaps the most remarkable overview can be observed in the artwork of the Renaissance period. Here there are any number of renderings of individuals of noble birth and landed gentry giving way to generations upon generations. Look closely and you will be able to see how jewelry ranging from tiaras to belts to buckles on boots has been depicted in oil, water and charcoal.
Here we have an example of a gem straight from that era. One which we can actually hold within the palm of a hand and see a quite similar ring in the 1505 painting of "Portrait of a Goldsmith" by Gerard David hanging in the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna.
Made of high carat gold of about 22k or a bit less, this ring dates anywhere from the mid to later 16th century (although it can be a bit earlier). It totes the more classic style of the Tudor Dynasty with the 16th century hallmark characteristics of simplified curves and surfaces and four cusps holding the centered natural ruby. The gem is polished in just six surfaces – the bottom, four peaks and a roof or flat slightly buffed top surface. Decorative rings of this era are typically delicate and quite petite in size yet this one has a lovely small but substantial overall feel. This piece is exceptionally scarce.
For several similar examples, see "Historic Rings” by Diana Scarisbrick on pages 49 – 50 and 64 – 69.