Throughout history and across almost all cultures, precious stones have been attributed with many different meanings and symbols. But sometimes, it’s the relationship between two gems that says it all.
Such is the case for the exceptionally lavish, 15th century ring that sold for auction at Sotheby’s last week, coming in over the estimated price, at £35,000, as part of the ‘Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art’ sale.
In this early, rather rare example of a ‘love or marriage ring’, the bond between husband and wife is symbolised by two different gems: an impressive point-cut diamond and a rounded ruby, placed side by side. These are held within engraved sprigs, typical 15th century goldsmith’s work in England.
The ring was unearthed in 2013 by an amateur treasure hunter using a metal detector. It was found near Launde Abbey, an Elizabethan manor house situated in the valley of the river Chater (East Norton, Leicestershire), which, from the 12th century onwards, was occupied by a large and wealthy Augustinian Priory.
After surveying the site as part of the dissolution of the monasteries, Thomas Cromwell was so impressed by the building and location that he presented it to himself, writing in his diary: “Myself for Launde”. His execution in 1540 prevented Cromwell from moving in, however his son Gregory and wife Elizabeth Seymour (sister of Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour) did take up residence there.
An uncertain misfortune
Writing in the catalogue entry, Sotheby ‘Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art’ specialist, Erik Bijzet explained: “The movement of wealthy patrons around a major monastery, the violence with which the rich institution must have been taken for the Crown, and the importance of the subsequent inhabitants are all reasons for a ring of this significance to have been deposited in its vicinity.”
It’s certainly sad to think of this beautiful ring leaving its owner’s finger by whatever misfortune. Though it resurfaced, several centuries later, this is by no means the case for all lost or stolen rings. While we may not be able to reunite you with the original, by insuring your engagement or wedding ring with Assetsure, we can certainly cover its financial value, providing you with greater peace of mind.