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Intricate 16thC Medieval Silver Agate Gem Ring Size 9 $139.99


For Customers outside of USA

Gorgeous Size 9 Late Byzantine/Early Renaissance Era Silver Ring with a Semi-Precious Agate Center Stone.

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

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

SIZE/DIMENSIONS: (All measurements approximate).

Size: 9 (U.S.). Inner Diameter: 20 1/2mm * 19mm. Overall Diameter: 31mm * 23mm.

Bezel: Breadth: 17mm. Height: 15mm. Thickness: 10mm.

Gemstone: Breadth: 15mm. Height: 13mm. Thickness: 8mm.

Fixed Width 7mm Band.

Weight: 7.84 grams.

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

DETAIL: A very large and intricate silver alloy ring of late Byzantine or early Renaissance origin, probably sixteen or seventeenth century, provenance is Eastern Europe. The ring bears a very elaborate pattern on the sides of the band wrapping all of the way around to the back of the band. A similarly elaborate pattern embellishes the circumferential skirt of the bezel - a beaded chain design. It is quite substantial, and the design of the ring and the detailed metal work evidenced in the bezel and bands is very elaborate! There is some moderately light wear to the sides and back of the band, and as well to a portion of the beaded bezel embellishment, and some of the pattern has been flattened a bit by wear - though certainly not worn smooth.

Virtually the entirety of the intricate metal embellishments are intact, and if not sharp, at least discernible. The level of wear evidence is very modest, and the ring remains quite substantial and durable. In fact both the bands and the bezel are of considerably heavier construction than the typical ring of the era - as you can see the ring is quite heavy. 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 very modest amount of wear, not excessive, and it remains quite intricate and substantial. The design of the ring and the detailed metal work evidenced in the bezel and bands is very elaborate! 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 elaborate, elegant, and intricate 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 round gemstone is banded agate. Agate gemstones and jewelry were very popular throughout the Roman Empire. Before the Romans the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Egyptians as well as the Sumerians also fashioned agate into jewelry. Since before recorded history evidence suggests that quartz agate was one of the most favored gemstones for at least the past 10,000 years. Most agates occur in gas bubble cavities in eruptive rocks or ancient lava. Silica laded water is deposited within the bubbles, and coagulates to a silica gel, eventually crystallizing as quartz. Since perhaps 40,000-80,000 years ago both Neanderthal and Modern Man have been attracted to agate's wide variety of patterns and beautiful colors, transparent to opaque.

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: Agate is named after its ancient source, the Achates River in Sicily, now known as the Drillo River, which remains a major source of this gemstone. Agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet in ancient times. It was said to quench thirst and protect from fevers. Persian magicians were believed to possess the power to divert storms through the use of agate talismans. A famous collection of four thousand agate bowls was accumulated by Mithradates, king of Pontus, and is illustrative of the high value the ancient world had for agate. Agate bowls were also popular in the Byzantine Empire. Collecting agate bowls became common among European royalty during the Renaissance and many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have spectacular examples.

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."