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Handsome 16thC Medieval Silver Quartz Crystal Ring Sz8 1/2 $119.99


For Customers outside of USA

Gorgeous Size 8 1/2 Late Byzantine/Early Renaissance Era Silver Ring with a Semi-Precious Quartz Rock Crystal Center Stone.

CLASSIFICATION: Silver (Alloy) Ring; Quartz Crystal Semi-Precious Gemstone.

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

SIZE/DIMENSIONS: (All measurements approximate).

Size: 8 1/2 (U.S.). Inner Diameter: 19mm * 18 mm. Overall Diameter: 25mm * 22mm.

Oval Bezel/Stone: 12mm in breadth; 9mm in height; 7mm in thickness. (All measurements approximate).

Tapered Width Band: 6mm at bezel; 5 1/2mm at sides; 4 1/2mm at back.

Weight: 4.47 grams.

CONDITION: Excellent! Intact, integrity unimpaired. Wear consistent with moderately heavy 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 there remains the remnants of an intricate engraved design on the bands - very characteristic of Byzantine jewelry. Though the ring is entirely intact, it does show the signs of moderately heavy wear. There were likely intricate patterns all the way around the outside surfaces of the band - as is customary for Eastern European rings such as this. If you look closely at where the bands meet the bezel, you can see some faint traces of this intricate metal work, and even faint remnants of it all the way back to the sides of the bands. However the metalwork has been worn almost smooth from wear, and this now the bands appear to casual glance to be smooth - almost modern in appearance.

Despite the wear, it is not excess wear, as given the substantial construction of the ring and the thick, heavy bands; the integrity of the ring remains unimpaired. Clearly this ring was amongst someone's favorite possessions, and they wore it with great pleasure and regularity - but it could still bring a new owner many decades of wearing enjoyment left. 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. Overall the ring evidences a substantial amount of wear, not excessive, 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 blue gemstone is lapis lazuli. Evidence suggests that lapis lazuli has been utilized as a gemstone for at least 10,000 years, making it along with pearls, turquoise, carnelian, and amber amongst the "oldest" gemstones utilized by ancient cultures for decorative purposes. These specimens possess glittering highlights of golden iron pyrite inclusions ("fools gold").

The gemstone is colorless quartz crystal - known to some as "rock crystal". Of course quartz crystal was extremely popular both in the ancient world and into the Medieval and Renaissance worlds for its reputed power and protection. The ring itself is silver alloyed some portion of bronze. While it is not sterling silver, much like contemporary silver rings, the addition of a 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, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and various forms of quartz (such as quartz "carnelian" and quartz crystal) are the oldest gemstones utilized in the manufacture of jewelry by ancient cultures. Quartz ("rock crystal") caught the eye of various ancient cultures with its brilliant transparency. To the ancient Greeks it was "krystallos", from which the name "crystal" is derived. To the ancient Slavic cultures it was, "kwardy", from which eventually the name "quartz" was derived. The clearest form of quartz is rock crystal, used since ancient times to manufacture "crystal balls". Quartz was also ground by ancient cultures to produce primitive forms of glass and ceramics. Faience jewelry and amulets were mass produced in ancient Egypt fashioned from ground quartz and various minerals added to produce color (such as copper ore for blue-green; iron ore for red and orange, etc.). Similar ceramic jewelry and amulets were also produced by the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian cultures.

Colorless quartz crystals have always been popular in jewelry since even ancient pre-recorded history due to mystical legends concerning the "power" of quartz crystals. Quartz crystals produce an electric voltage, a property known as piezoelectric. Unable to understand the characteristic, ancient cultures attributed many mystical properties to quartz crystals. For thousands of years various European cultures believed that the mind of a medium became receptive to the spirit world via the influence of quartz when it was fashioned into a sphere or crystal ball. Quartz was believed to act as a psychic purifier, tuning one into their inner "vibrations". It was believed that clear crystals possessed the ability to amplify emotions, enhance concentration and intuition, and neutralize "negative energies".<

After gold, silver is the metal most widely used in jewelry and the most malleable. The oldest silver artifacts date from ancient Sumeria about 4000 BC. Although known during the Copper Age, silver made only rare appearances in jewelry before the classical age. Despite its infrequent use as jewelry however, silver was widely used as coinage due to its softness, brilliant color, and resistance to oxidation. It was also widely used as ornamental work and in other metal wares. In ancient cultures, especially in Rome, silver was highly prized for the making of plate ware, household utensils, and ornamental work. Silver later lost its position of dominance to gold, but, during the European Middle Ages, it once again became the principal material used for metal artwork. Large quantities of silver from the New World also encouraged eager buyers in Europe.

The art of silver work flourished in the Renaissance, finding expression in virtually every imaginable form. Silver was often plated with gold and other decorative materials. Though less costly than gold, silver was nonetheless the domain of royalty and the wealthy. Although silver sheets had been used to overlay wood and other metals since ancient Greece, an 18th-century technique of fusing thin silver sheets to copper brought silver goods called Sheffield plate within the reach of most people. At the same time the use of silver in jewelry making had also started gaining popularity in the 17th century. It was often as support in settings for diamonds and other transparent precious stones, in order to encourage the reflection of light. Silver continued to gain in popularity throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and by the 20th century competed with gold as the principal metal used in the manufacture of jewelry.

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."