Medieval Byzantine Engraved Filigree 2 Ruby Ring AD900 $169.99 - SOLD
Size 4 3/4 Genuine Ancient (Roman) Byzantine Bronze Ring with Intricately Engraved Filigree Bezel Restored with Two 19th Century Antique Celanese Rubies.
CLASSIFICATION: Ancient Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) Bronze Ring.
ATTRIBUTION: Eastern Roman Empire (Constantinople), 10th-12th Century A.D.
SIZE/MEASUREMENTS: Fits ring size 4 3/4 (U.S.).
Overall Dimensions: 17 1/4mm * 17mm (outer dimensions); Inner Diameter: 16mm (inner diameter).
Bezel: 12mm (length) * 6mm (breadth) * 1mm (thickness).
Tapered Width Band: 2 1/4mm (at bezel) * 2mm (at sides) * 1 3/4mm (at back)
(2) Gemstones: Diameter: 2mm. Combined Weight: 0.09 carats.
Weight: 0.89 grams.
CONDITION: Excellent! Completely intact evidencing only very light wear consistent with occasional (ancient) usage, very little porosity (surface pitting caused by contact with earth while buried). Professionally conserved.
DETAIL: A very well preserved and intricate openwork ("filigree") bronze ring circa tenth to twelfth century A.D. As you can see the ring is very delicate and elegant in design, a delicately filigreed and engraved bezel. The "bezel" or face of the ring is in a marquise shape (laid sideways). We're not entirely sure whether the ring was actually set with gemstones, as it might be that there were simply two concave recessions in the bezel intended to give the impression of gemstones. This style of ring, a bronze ring with either a concave or convex depression or knob, in bronze, but intending to give the impression of a gemstone, was quite popular during the era, and well into the Late Medieval Period. However whether the ring was originally set with gemstones or not, there were two concave "cups" which begged to be set with gemstones, and odds are, were indeed originally set with gemstones.
Since to our eyes the ring simply cried for the remounting of gemstones likely lost centuries ago, we took two antique Celanese rubies of nineteenth century origin and set them into the ring. The ancient Byzantine Romans had a number of different adhesives they used, some of the most common being resin and bitumen. However one characteristic that they all had in common is that sooner or later, they tended to fail. Rather than use bitumen pitch or tree resin, we mounted the gemstones using jeweler's epoxy. The gemstones are quite secure, but if you at time in the future wished to remove them, this could easily be accomplished using some thinner or nail polish remover. Though the gemstones are not as old as the ring, nonetheless these beautiful little rubies seemed an appropriate choice. Rubies were amongst the earliest gemstones traded by mankind, since the 5th millennium B.C.
Highly valued in ancient Rome, rubies were worn as an amulet for protection from plagues, poison, sorrow, and evil spirits from ancient times all the way through Medieval Europe. Both the Greeks and Indo-Europeans (Celts) believed that the "heat" evidenced by the intense, red color was fire from within the gemstone, capable of boiling water or melting wax. The gemstones were produced in nineteenth century Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). They were handcrafted into these sparkling faceted rounds by an nineteenth century Russian artisan near Yekaterinburg, Russia, home of one of Russia's most famous gemstone and jewelry production centers, famous for producing the elaborate jewelry of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia.
Fate has been kind, and the ring has been preserved in wonderful condition. The ring evidences very light wear consistent with occasional use in ancient Byzantium, and the intricate and delicate filigree is entirely intact. All of the metal work exhibits very fine workmanship, and is intact, notwithstanding the very light wear already noted. Nonetheless it is quite obvious that the ring was worn in life. However this should not be a source for disappointment. You must keep in mind that the ring was produced by an artisan and sold to a patron or consumer with the idea that the ring would be enjoyed and worn by the purchaser. And without any regard to twenty-first century posterity, that's precisely what happened! The original Byzantine/Roman owner of this ring wore it, enjoyed it, and probably never could have in his most delusional moment ever dreamed that almost fifty generations later the ring would still exist.
It should likewise come as no surprise that upon close inspection one is able to detect the telltale signs that the ring spent many centuries buried in soil. Porosity is fine surface pitting (oxidation, corrosion) caused by extended burial in caustic soil. Many small ancient metal artifacts such as this are extensively disfigured and suffer substantial degradation as a consequence of the ordeal of being buried for millennia. It is not at all unusual to find metal artifacts decomposed to the point where they are not much more substantial than discolored patterns in the soil. Actually most smaller ancient artifacts such as this are so badly oxidized that oftentimes all that is left is a green (bronze) or red (iron) stain in the soil, or an artifact which crumbles in your hand.
However this specimen is not so afflicted, and certainly has not been disfigured. Even to close inspection, it simply looks like an ancient ring, nicely surfaced, no immediately discernible blemishes. You have to look very closely, such as with a jeweler's loupe or in these photo enlargements, to detect the telltale signs indicating the ring was buried for millennia. This ring spent somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand years 2,000 years buried, yet by good fortune there is only an exceptionally light degree of porosity evidenced. It happened to come to rest in very gentle soil conditions. Consequentially, the integrity of the artifact remains undiminished, and despite the wear, the rings remains quite handsome, and entirely wearable.
This is an exceptional piece of Roman/Byzantine jewelry, a very handsome artifact, and eminently wearable, albeit it probably as a pinkie finger ring for a lady. The ring's size is a bit small for modern populations, but the ring was almost certainly worn by an ancient Roman adult woman. Take into account that primitive populations were generally of slighter build than today's robust populations, and many populations including those of the Romans and the Byzantines were then and even today were typically smaller than their contemporaries who are of Germanic, Scandinavian, or Celtic descent. Romans (and their Eastern Roman Empire counterparts in Byzantium) also oftentimes wore rings on all ten fingers (including their thumbs), so "pinkie" rings would have been much more common than they are today. And Romans wore rings on both the first and second joint of their fingers, the second joint obviously thinner (even on you and I) than the first joint where most people wear rings today. So a size 4 3/4 ring would not have been an uncommon size for the typical Roman woman, and even for a man of the ancient past, it would not have been extraordinary.
It is a quite remarkable artifact. The ring is very elaborate, and its integrity uncompromised. It could easily be worn and enjoyed on a daily basis. It is an interesting historical relic which pertains not only to the history of Roman Byzantium, but also to the history of jewelry production. The ring is very modern and distinctive in appearance, a classic and timeless design. The ring has a very nice medium bronze tone, unmistakably bronze, but very attractive. The ring dates to a time when the Western Roman World had collapsed - plunging Western Europe into 1,000 years of darkness. But at the time the Eastern Roman Empire still flourished as one of the globe's great powers. The Romans and their Byzantine successors were of course very fond of ornate personal jewelry including bracelets worn both on the forearm and upper arm, brooches, pendants, hair pins, earrings, intricate fibulae and belt buckles, and of course, rings. The style is close to contemporary tastes, and could be comfortably worn today by either a man or a woman. Aside from being significant to the history of ancient jewelry, it is also an evocative relic of one of the world's greatest civilizations and the ancient world's most significant military machines; the glory, might and light which was the "Roman Empire" (and their Eastern successors the Byzantines, who still referred to themselves "Romans").
HISTORY: The Byzantine Empire was the eastern remainder of the great Roman Empire, and stretched from its capital in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey) through much of Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, and small portions of North Africa and the Middle East. Prior to the fifth century collapse of the Western Roman Empire, one of Rome's greatest emperors, Constantine the Great, established a second capital city for the Roman Empire in the East at Byzantium, present day Turkey. Constantine The Great sought to reunite the Roman Empire, centered upon Christian faith, by establishing a second "capital" for the Eastern Roman, away from the pagan influences of the city of Rome. Established as the new capital city for the Eastern Roman Empire in the fourth century, Constantine named the city in his own honor, "Constantinople".
After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, the "Byzantine Empire", lasted for another thousand years as the cultural, religious and economic center of Eastern Europe. At the same time, as a consequence of the fall of the Western Roman Empire, most of the rest of Europe suffered through one thousand years of the "dark ages". As the center of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople was one of the most elaborate, civilized, and wealthy cities in all of history. The Christian Church eventually became the major political force in the Byzantine Empire. In Byzantine art, God rather than man stood at the center of the universe. Constantine the Great is also credited with being the first Christian Roman Emperor, and was eventually canonized by the Orthodox Church. Christianity had of course been generally outlawed prior to his reign.
Under the Byzantine Empire, Christianity became more than just a faith, it was the theme of the entire empire, its politics, and the very meaning of life. Christianity formed an all-encompassing way of life, and the influence of the Byzantine Empire reached far both in terms of time and geography, certainly a predominant influence in all of Europe up until the Protestant Reformation. In Byzantine art, God rather than man stood at the center of the universe. Representations of Christ, the Virgin, and various saints predominated the coinage of the era. The minting of the coins remained crude however, and collectors today prize Byzantine coins for their extravagant variations; ragged edges, "cupped" coins, etc. Other artifacts such as rings, pendants, and pottery are likewise prized for their characteristically intricate designs.
The name ruby comes from the Latin "rubeus" (red). The most sought after shade of red for ruby is often given the name "pigeon blood red", but ruby can be any shade of red up to almost pink. The only source of "pigeon blood" rubies is Mogok in Upper Burma, about ninety miles from Kepling's Mandalay, and are known in the trade as "Mogok" rubies. In Mogok, the rubies are mined by natives according to centuries-old customs. The famous "Hill of Precious Stones", near Bangkok, Thailand, yields rubies of a deeper shade, usually a more brownish color. Rubies from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) tend toward violet, and are lighter in color. Oriented rutile crystal inclusions cause a six-rayed-star light effect (called asterism) to form the popular "Star Ruby". The "Star Ruby" is also known as a "Mysore Ruby", as the majority are mined in Mysore, India. Ruby was worn by the ancients as an amulet for protection from plagues, poison, sorrow, and evil spirits. The ruby symbolized freedom, charity, dignity and divine power.
The Greeks believed that the "fire" evidenced by a ruby's red coloration could melt wax. Up through Medieval Europe, rubies were worn for protection against unhappiness, lightening and upsetting dreams. In Sankskrit, an ancient language of India, ruby was called "ratnaraj", which means "King of Gems". To them, this fiery stone burned with an inextinguishable fire, capable of boiling the water in which it was placed. In India, it was said that he who offered rubies to the gods would be reincarnated as a powerful king or emperor. In Burma it was felt a ruby must not just be worn, but embedded in the skin to become part of the body, thus making the wearer invulnerable. Ruby is the red variety of corundum, the second hardest natural mineral known to mankind. The non-red variety of corundum is Sapphire. Sapphires are well known among the general public as being blue, but can be nearly any color. Rubies are mined all over the world, but the highest quality gemstones come from Burma Ceylon, Siam, and India.
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
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