18k Victorian Aesthetic Movement Enameled Ring with Christ

A splendid and exceedingly rare 19th century Victorian ring, completely handcrafted with 18k gold in the style of 6th – 7th century Medieval Byzantine marriage rings, with a ring face enameled with the face of Christ wearing a crown of thorns.

The most distinguishing feature of this piece is the fine miniature enamel work on the ring face. One sees this type of enamel portraiture against a rich ground of gold in French-made mid-19th century jewelry, many of which feature religious and mythological themes (e.g. enameled faces of angels, Biblical figures, Greek gods and goddesses).

Enameling technique aside, what is unique and remarkable about this ring is its form, which is inspired by medieval Byzantine marriage rings from the 6th – 7th centuries. These marriage rings would commonly feature flat round or geometric ring faces engraved with images of Christ over the couple’s initials, in a representation of divine approval and protection of the union. The marvelous ring band is unlike most 19th century shanks with their utilitarian half-dome shape. The maker of this ring had instead revisited the ancient technique of sheet metal coiling; instead of casting the shank, three bands were made from hammed gold sheets and connected with decorative beads and engraved bars. The overall effect of this method evokes the feel and look of ancient jewelry from the near-East Bactrian and Byzantine civilizations.

Such commitment to ancient jewelry-craft suggests this ring was made under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, which aimed to bypass the influence of neoclassical and Renaissance art theory, and return to roots buried deeper within history. This ring would have fit right in with all those paintings of medieval maidens, Roman goddesses, and Arthurian beauties.

Description

Date: c. 1850 – 80s, Victorian period, Aesthetic Movement / Pre-Raphaelite

Materials: solid 18k gold, enamel

Ring size: USA 6.5 / UK M 1/2 / EU 52 3/4

Weight: 1.4 grams

Dimension of ring face: 11.6 x 8.8 mm oval

Width of shank: 8.2 – 3.7 mm (from widest to narrowest points)

Thickness of shank: 0.7 mm

Condition: Great wearable antique condition, but with the following flaws:

1. There are some shallow age-related surface scratches to the ring face enamel

2. The sheet gold band is lightly bent at spots, with minor dents throughout. About 3 spots of the band/shank has tiny splits.