Ring

1899 (made)
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
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This ring, set with a cabochon or unfaceted almandine garnet and in the form of a domed building, formerly belonged to May Morris, the daughter of the socialist, artist and designer William Morris. She was a talented embroiderer, designer and jeweller in her own right. The designer of this ring Charles de Sousy Ricketts (1866-1931) was a sculptor, artist, illustrator and founder of the Vale Press and the art journal The Dial. He was particularly known for his stage designs, most notably for Oscar Wilde's notorious production of Salomé. Ricketts and May Morris were personal friends and part of the same artistic circles. He designed embroidery patterns for her and accompanied her on river trips from his home in Richmond.

Between about 1899 and 1908, Ricketts designed jewellery as personal gifts for friends. 58 of these designs, including that for May Morris's ring, survive in an album now in the British Museum entitled 'Designs for Jewellry [sic] done in Richmond 1899, C. Ricketts'. His pieces, including this ring, were heavily inspired by medieval and Renaissance jewellery and by his fondness for coloured gemstones. They were generally made by the London jeweller Carlo Giuliano, although Ricketts was sometimes disappointed by the quality of the modelling of the finished jewels. Ricketts exhibited this ring at the 1899 Arts and Crafts exhibition alongside a pair of episcopal gloves, designed by him and embroidered by Morris. However, he was displeased by the later reception of his ring by May Morris, who only wore it for a week, causing him to deplore her as an 'indolent woman'. Although Ricketts enjoyed designing jewellery and presenting it to friends, the expense grew considerable and he was eventually persuaded to give up the practice.

The domed building which forms the bezel of the ring was inspired by Jewish marriage rings which were often surmounted by a building representing either the Temple or symbolising the new couple's future home. The cabochon garnet, which would not have been found on a Jewish wedding ring, reflects the use of gemstones in medieval rings.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cabochon almandine garnet, set in gold
Brief Description
Cabochon almandine garnet set in a gold ring in the form of a turret or castle. Designed by Charles Ricketts and possibly made by Carlo Giuliano, England, 1899.
Physical Description
The gold setting is high, in the form of a turret or small castle, the shoulders are in the form of buttresses. It is set with a cabochon garnet dome.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 0.875in
Style
Credit line
Bequeathed by May Morris
Object history
A ring by Charles Ricketts, known as the Sabbatai ring and now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge also uses the form of a domed building. It was made in 1904 but is a more elaborate building than the V&A ring and was inspired by the story of Sabbatai Sebi, a Jewish mystic who converted to Islam. The building is based on the mosque of Omar.

Another Ricketts ring set with a star sapphire cabochon was on sale at the Les Enluminures gallery in 2016.
Production
The original drawings are in an album lettered 'Jewellery 1899' in the British Museum 1962,0809,2,27
Subject depicted
Summary
This ring, set with a cabochon or unfaceted almandine garnet and in the form of a domed building, formerly belonged to May Morris, the daughter of the socialist, artist and designer William Morris. She was a talented embroiderer, designer and jeweller in her own right. The designer of this ring Charles de Sousy Ricketts (1866-1931) was a sculptor, artist, illustrator and founder of the Vale Press and the art journal The Dial. He was particularly known for his stage designs, most notably for Oscar Wilde's notorious production of Salomé. Ricketts and May Morris were personal friends and part of the same artistic circles. He designed embroidery patterns for her and accompanied her on river trips from his home in Richmond.



Between about 1899 and 1908, Ricketts designed jewellery as personal gifts for friends. 58 of these designs, including that for May Morris's ring, survive in an album now in the British Museum entitled 'Designs for Jewellry [sic] done in Richmond 1899, C. Ricketts'. His pieces, including this ring, were heavily inspired by medieval and Renaissance jewellery and by his fondness for coloured gemstones. They were generally made by the London jeweller Carlo Giuliano, although Ricketts was sometimes disappointed by the quality of the modelling of the finished jewels. Ricketts exhibited this ring at the 1899 Arts and Crafts exhibition alongside a pair of episcopal gloves, designed by him and embroidered by Morris. However, he was displeased by the later reception of his ring by May Morris, who only wore it for a week, causing him to deplore her as an 'indolent woman'. Although Ricketts enjoyed designing jewellery and presenting it to friends, the expense grew considerable and he was eventually persuaded to give up the practice.



The domed building which forms the bezel of the ring was inspired by Jewish marriage rings which were often surmounted by a building representing either the Temple or symbolising the new couple's future home. The cabochon garnet, which would not have been found on a Jewish wedding ring, reflects the use of gemstones in medieval rings.



Bibliographic References
  • Hindman, Sandra and Chadour-Sampson, Beatriz; Rings around the world, 2016; pp. 200-04
  • Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, p.95, fig. 119
  • Scarisbrick, Diana. Charles Ricketts and his designs for jewellery; Apollo CXVI (September-1982); p. 163-4
  • Gere, Charlotte. Munn, Geoffrey C.; Artists' Jewellery, Pre-Raphaelite to Arts and Crafts.Woodbridge ; Antique Collectors' Club, 1989, p. 157
  • Ritchie, Helen Designers and Jewellery 1850-1940: Jewellery and Metalwork from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 2018
Collection
Accession Number
M.35-1939

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record createdMarch 12, 2003
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