I have spent 3 weeks researching this most unbelievable Serpent... I know this will be a lengthy listing but please bear with me. The information I am giving is important and factual. I want my clients to know every single thing about their purchases so I will try to make it as brief as possible however, there is quite a bit of information...
In nearly 20 years in dealing in antique jewelry, this is by Far the finest example of an early Georgian Snake Ring that I have ever seen. As part of my research I have looked at hundreds of snake rings from this ring's period which is Circa 1780 all the way through the Edwardian period, Circa 1910. In the hundreds of Google Images I have seen, not one single ring compares to the Fantastic and unique style. Frankly, nothing even comes close...
One of the reason's I have done such intense research is because of the mark under his head. It is stamped 19K. This is the very first piece of jewelry in 20 years that I have ever owned with such a gold mark. It threw me, I will admit however, I have figured it out and I am 100% sure in my findings. Most Georgian Jewelry from this period was simply not marked. However, this ring came from Italy. I am sure that this is where this fabulous ring was produced. Now, to better understand the mark, this is what I have found...
Italy for centuries was divided into small states and Lordships. Each of these (small states) used it's own currency. Within it, different provinces were ruled by their own Lordships. Now, that 19K Hallmark, or Punch? That may have only been used for a few years but I am certain of it's origin. Generally speaking? When you research 19K, most of those hallmarked pieces were made in the Middle East. This is Not the case with this ring. It very much has a feel of what was probably produced in Venice, or near. When one compares rings, earrings, bracelets, brooches or even necklaces, an Italian influence is very easy to identify.. This snake ring, absolutely and unequivocally has an Italian feel. So, mystery solved. This was produced in Italy, Circa 1780 ~ 1800 (Latest) and holds an unusual 19K mark under his head.
Now, being gold standards were so loose during this period, the 19K mark, is not correct. I have a very fancy new jeweler's piece of equipment that is far superior to acid testing. It is an electronic tester. This tester is wonderful and after you first calibrate it? You simply touch the tip of the wet pen portion to any piece of gold and it gives the exact gold content. There is zero room for error with this high tech piece of equipment I own. This ring is testing for 21K Gold, not 19 as stated. Remember, during this period jeweler's had not yet come up with the exact formula's we have today to say, produce 10K, 14K, 18K, etc.. Today jeweler's who mix gold, know exactly how much alloy, be it copper or nickle, etc. to add to make it spot on to the exact Karat. This was not the case during the Renaissance, Georgian or Victorian periods. In fact, even with gold I am testing from the Art Deco period that is stamped 18K, is actually precisely testing slightly higher or, slightly lower... They did not perfect the alloy amounts needed until around the 1940's or so.
The Ring.... Stunning, Unusual, Fabulous and Ultra Rare! There are many more Fabulous words I could use but you will see in these photo's just how rare the ring is. The snake... His head has 12 smoothly bead set rose and single cut diamonds. They are all foil backed. His mouth is slightly open and you can actually put your fingernail inside of his mouth. He has 2 Genuine, natural and undyed Red ruby eyes. These small rubies are old, very old mine cut stones. Around the ruby eyes is high carat gold. They are collet set in this gold... Behind the 12 single cut or rose cut diamonds he has an impressive Marquis shaped (natural and genuine) ruby. Again, not heat treated, natural.. That is colet set with a silver bezel which securely holds it in place. Directly behind the marquis shaped ruby is a wide collar the snake is wearing. There are 3 stones in that collar. There are 2 deep blue, natural and undyed mine cut sapphires. One is very visible, then there is a round mine cut diamond in the center. Lastly, closest to his tail, there is a second mine cut sapphire. Although it is hidden by his tail, it is easy to see when magnified or with a loupe. I have had a tremendous amount of help from dealer's with 85 years of experience between the 2 of them. These are High End dealer's that know their stuff! One of the dealer's that I have consulted with feels that the mine cut diamond between the 2 sapphires may have been replaced at some point. So, if he is correct then that stone may have originally been either another diamond another ruby or perhaps a third sapphire. Regardless, its old, if it was replaced it was at least 100 years ago, minimum!
Symbolism of the snake and the ruby eyes.... To the ancient Greeks and Romans, the serpent was considered primarily a symbol of fertility or re-birth and therefore, eternity, since it seemed to be reborn each time it shed its skin. There are a number of Greco-Roman and Roman serpent rings which have survived into modern times. Rings, and to a lesser extent, other pieces of jewelry ornamented with a serpent or snake, were again popular during the Renaissance. Serpent rings, and other jeweled snake images, would re-appear intermittently in Europe over the course of the following centuries, down to the early years of the nineteenth century and beyond. ***
As one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols, it's no wonder serpents (snakes) remain as popular in jewelry as they did back in ancient Egyptian times. What makes this creature so intriguing to mankind is its dual expression of good and evil, fertility and rebirth, poison and medicine. Throughout time, different civilizations have interpreted the serpent's symbolism in different ways: the Egyptians saw it represent royalty and deity; in Rabbinical tradition and Hinduisim, the snake represents sexual passion and desire; while the Romans interpreted the snake as a symbol of everlasting love. While Cleopatra may be the most notable historic figure to espouse the wearing of snake jewelry, Greek, Nordic, African, and Native Americans have all celebrated this intriguing reptile in gilded forms with varying meaning. ***
Measurements, Circa, Metal, Stones etc.... The ring is a very large size for the period. It is a US size 7 1/2. It may have been a man's ring however I actually believe that it was simply a woman's ring with a larger finger for the period. The beauty of this ring, (yes it gets better...) is that behind the shank there is a smooth area. That means that any (old school bench jeweler) can easily size this ring either up or down, easily and without destroying any of the rings integrity. The widest portion of the ring measuring from head across to the tail is 3/8" across or 8mm's across. The band measures 4mm's thick behind the collar. The entire shank is round (lovely) and it slightly tapers down to 3mm's. The ring is in good round. Excellent in fact as this is a high Karat Gold and frankly, I am surprised that it has kept it's shape. This ring has nice weight at 5.4 grams.
The Stones.. The rose cuts and table cut diamonds are small but very sparkly in the light. They cannot be measured exactly as they are table cut however please look at the ring in my hand. It will give you a great idea of their size. The Marquis shaped ruby measures 5mm x 3mm's. The round mine cut diamond in the collar measures approximately 1 1/2mm's. The sapphires each measure approximately 3mm's each.
The detail in and around the shoulder's and band is beautiful. The Jeweler decorated the very first 2 scrolls behind the collar with deep blue enamel. The rest of the shank has hand decorated scrolls and stars however those do not have enamel work. From the over 200+ years, there is deep patina that looks very dark in those areas. I am not going to disturb it. I do not recommend that anybody disturbs it.
The Only issue to mention is that around the marquis shaped ruby, there is a tiny bit of the bezel that may be missing. Also, under my loupe I can see just a tiny, tiny bit of wear to that stone. It is not cracked, it is simply a tiny bit of gentle loving wear. I have weighed out my options. 2 weeks ago, I considered having that silver added however after consulting with those 2 long time dealer's, we have collectively decided not to touch it. The ruby is safe in its current position and will never fall out so I am leaving it as is. It is much more pronounced in the photos than in person. You will never notice it.
In closing. This is a Very Rare ring. Circa 1780 - 1800. Italian in Origin, Stamped 19K however electronically testing for 21K. All natural and undyed stones and diamonds. In my opinion, Excellent Antique condition. I encourage you to try to find a better antique snake ring... I really do not see anything, anywhere on-line that is nearly as good. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some very, very lucky buyer. Truth be told, I absolutely hate to see this ring go. I have about 100+ more photos. Please feel free to email for additional pictures. Please excuse that piece of fuzz in my pictures, that has now been removed. I took these photos about a week ago and now we are having rain so I cannot get new photo's until it clears. Questions are Always more than welcome and frankly, encouraged. I know this is a big purchase. I really encourage you to contact me via email, or please call me. My phone number is on my homepage. Enjoy! It is absolutely as good as it gets!
Also, I will be listing these Fabulous Georgian Snake earrings biting it's own tail either today or tomorrow. Both are from Italy from the same Woman...
*** Internet Reference
Also, the ring box is for display only, sorry..
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