This is a nice antique Baroque gold and garnet seven-stone 'bow' ring, dating to the early 18th century. The central collet is embellished with hand-incised and embossed scallops, suggesting either Spanish Catalan or Italian workmanship. The openwork foliate shoulders and raised bezeling give the ring height, depth, and a particularly gorgeous profile view; this design preference for dramatic, ‘tall’ mounts seems to be a regional feature of 18th century rings made in southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy). The arrangement of the stones, with a large center flanked by two rows of threes, first became popular during the late 17th century, its form likely intended to resemble that of a decorative bow. During the late Baroque era, bows became an indispensable element of fashion, demanded by that era’s love for volume and texture in dress, and enabled by newly improved Dutch looms that could weave over twenty ribbons simultaneously, thus making ribbons—and by extension, ribboned bows—both affordable and ubiquitous. It was fashionable to pin jewels and medals against ribboned bows; and soon, bow-shaped jewelry such as the Sévigné brooch and the seven-stone bow ring became widespread. While regional or design variations may result in different bezel styles, gem selections, sizes, or cuts, the essential seven-stone arrangement remained unchanged for over a century, c. 1675 - 1800.
This is clearly a much-loved example, it has plenty of age-related wear and a mellow glow to the gold through generations of service. Several of the stones appear reset and it has an old resizing mark to the lower hoop and a crack to one shoulder that has been repaired in the past. In all a nice antique ring with plenty of life left in it yet!
OBJECT: 'BOW' RING
DATE: c. 1700
MATERIAL: GOLD 18k
RING SIZE: 7 1/4 (US) O 1/2 (UK)
SIZE: 23mm x 21mm x 4mm
WEIGHT: 3.62 grams
PROVENANCE: Formerly the property of a Lady, London.
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