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Elegant 16thC Medieval Silver Carnelian Ring Size 8 $179.99


For Customers outside of USA

Gorgeous Size 8 Late Byzantine/Early Renaissance Era Silver Ring with a Semi-Precious Carnelian Center Stone.

CLASSIFICATION: Silver (Alloy) Ring; Bright Orange Semi-Precious Quartz Carnelian Gemstone.

ATTRIBUTION: Constantinople (Ancient Turkey), 15-17th Century A.D.

SIZE/DIMENSIONS: (All measurements approximate).

Size: 8 (U.S.). Inner Diameter: 19mm * 18 1/2mm. Overall Diameter: 24 1/2mm * 21 1/2mm.

Bezel/Gemstone Diameter: 12 1/2mm. Thickness: 5 1/2mm.

Tapered Width Band: 7 1/2mm at bezel; 6mm at sides; 4 1/2mm at back.

Weight: 4.46 grams.

CONDITION: Excellent! Intact, integrity unimpaired. Wear consistent with moderately light usage. No significant porosity (surface pitting caused by contact with earth while buried). Very fine finish.

DETAIL: A very beautiful and simple silver alloy ring of late Byzantine or early Renaissance origin, probably sixteen or seventeenth century, provenance is Eastern Europe. The ring is of very simple, almost contemporary design, though the circumferential perimeter of the bezel (the “teeth”) is fairly complicated – as well as typical of the era. There is a very modest amount of wear evident to the bands as well as the bezel skirt. One can judge the relatively light extent of the wear by examining the “prongs” or “teeth” of the bezel skirt – it is obvious that some of them are slightly worn. But of course, some signs of wear are to be expected from a ring several centuries old. It was produced with the idea that someone would purchase it and wear it – and that is exactly what happened.

It is clear that several centuries ago this was amongst someone’s favorite rings, and that they wore it with pleasure and frequency. Overall the ring evidences a relatively light amount of wear, not excessive, consistent with occasional usage in ancient times, and it remains quite beautiful and elegant. The ring was probably designed to be worn by a man, and is bold and handsome enough to be worn by a man today. However the design is elegant enough to be worn with good taste by a woman as well. And the wear present has in no way diminished the integrity of the artifact. It could provide a new owner with decades of wearing enjoyment.

The dark reddish-orange gemstone is quartz carnelian, a reddish/orange gemstone wildly popular not only during the late Byzantine Empire, but as well back through the Roman, Greek, Phoenician, and Sumerian Empires. The ring itself is silver alloyed some minor portion of bronze. While it is not sterling silver, much like contemporary silver rings, the addition of a minor portion of base metal makes the ring more durable and resistant to wear and scratching. This style of ring was popular throughout much of Eastern Byzantine Europe for centuries, so it is difficult to place a precise date on the artifact. However it is likely to have been produced sometime in the 15th, 16th, or 17th century. In any event, this elaborate piece of late Byzantine or early Renaissance jewelry is in a very good state of preservation, and is quite wearable.

HISTORY: With the exception of pearls, used as gemstones by prehistoric man, carnelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli are the oldest gemstones utilized in the manufacture of jewelry. Carnelian is a form of quartz crystal which due to the inclusion of iron oxide is colored somewhere between yellow and red. Since before recorded history evidence suggests that carnelian was one of the most favored gemstones for at least the past 10,000 years. Two of the richest archaeological treasures, the tombs of both the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen and Sumerian Queen Queen Pu-abi's tomb at Ur contained many splendid examples of carnelian jewelry. Carnelian was widely favored by the Sumerian/Mesopotamian cultures and then their successors the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans for its use in jewelry.

Aside from its uses in the manufacture of jewelry, Carnelian was just as popular for use in carved intaglio seals, which originated in Mesopotamia (Sumeria) sometime in the 5th millennium B.C. The production of such incised carnelian seals was a highly developed art form by the 4th millennium B.C. Aside from being quite beautiful, carnelian seals and signets had the practical advantage of not sticking to wax. Carnelian gemstones and jewelry was very popular throughout the Roman Empire, and was widely used to carve cameos and signet/intaglio rings. There are many splendid examples of intaglio carnelian rings and signets produced by ancient Roman and Greek craftsmen still in existence today. A particularly noteworthy collection is housed at The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.

After gold, silver was the metal most widely used in jewelry. The oldest silver artifacts date from ancient Sumeria about 4000 BC. Silver was widely used as coinage due to its softness, brilliant color, and resistance to oxidation. In ancient cultures, especially in Rome (and the later Roman Empire, the “Byzantines”), silver was highly prized for jewelry and ornamental work. During the European Middle Ages silver was the principal material used for metal artwork. The art of silver work flourished in the Renaissance, finding expression in virtually every imaginable form. The use of silver in jewelry making became enormously popular in the 17th century. Silver was often as support in settings for diamonds and other transparent precious stones, in order to encourage the reflection of light. Though less costly than gold, silver was nonetheless the domain of royalty and the wealthy throughout most of the history of mankind.

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.

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.

Our order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington will ship your purchase within one business day of receipt of your personal check or money order. If you wish to pay electronically, we accept both PayPal and BidPay. However we ask that you PLEASE WAIT before remitting until we have mutually agreed upon method of shipment and shipping charges and you understand our PayPal limitations and policies (stated here). We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."