Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1250-1350 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This gold ring is in the plain 'stirrup' shape which was common in the 13th century. It is set with a small, polished but not faceted, cabochon sapphire. Gemstones were highly valued in the medieval world, sapphires, rubies, garnets, amethysts and rock crystal being the most commonly used. Diamonds were highly valued but much less common.

Gemstones were valued, as now, for their colour and lustre but medieval wearers also believed they held amuletic or talismanic powers. Sapphires were particularly prized as their blue colour was a reminder of the sky and hence heaven. For this reason, they were often set in a bishop's ring.

Books known as 'lapidaries' listed the powers attributed to each stone. The Liber Lapidum of Marbodus of Rennes (1067-81) was one of the most widely read and claimed that sapphires could protect the body, cool fevers and headaches, calm the eyes and cure stammers.

Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Wearing rings on the upper joints of the fingers must have contributed to their frequent loss. This ring is said to have been found in the grounds of the Chapel Royal, Windsor around 1835.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold set with a cabochon sapphire
Brief Description
Gold ring set with a cabochon sapphire, Western Europe, 1250-1350.
Physical Description
Gold ring of stirrup type, set with a cabochon sapphire.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 0.4cm
Credit line
Given by Dr Harcourt
Object history
Found in the vicinity of the Chapel Royal, Windsor, ca.1835
Summary
This gold ring is in the plain 'stirrup' shape which was common in the 13th century. It is set with a small, polished but not faceted, cabochon sapphire. Gemstones were highly valued in the medieval world, sapphires, rubies, garnets, amethysts and rock crystal being the most commonly used. Diamonds were highly valued but much less common.



Gemstones were valued, as now, for their colour and lustre but medieval wearers also believed they held amuletic or talismanic powers. Sapphires were particularly prized as their blue colour was a reminder of the sky and hence heaven. For this reason, they were often set in a bishop's ring.



Books known as 'lapidaries' listed the powers attributed to each stone. The Liber Lapidum of Marbodus of Rennes (1067-81) was one of the most widely read and claimed that sapphires could protect the body, cool fevers and headaches, calm the eyes and cure stammers.



Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Wearing rings on the upper joints of the fingers must have contributed to their frequent loss. This ring is said to have been found in the grounds of the Chapel Royal, Windsor around 1835.
Bibliographic Reference
Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, cat. 251
Collection
Accession Number
65-1871

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record createdMarch 15, 2006
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