Rare Baroque Era Stuart Crystal 18kt/Sterling Cypher + Braided Hair Ring
Stuart Crystal refers to a jewelry tradition that commenced in 1649, after the execution of King Charles I of the House of Stuart. Royalists (those loyal to the Stuart monarchy) discreetly wore what has now become known as "Stuart Crystal"- a variety of rings, earrings, and brooches that commemorated the lost monarch. These rare pieces generally consist of cut rock crystal contained within a silver or foil-backed setting, and are characterized by the presence of woven hair (initially belonging to King Charles I himself), gold initials, or even miniature portraits of the King. With the restoration of the Monarchy beginning in 1660, a shift occurred where Stuart crystal was worn more publicly and for more personal reasons, like immortalizing the sentiments of living loved ones, in memory of those of have passed, or as Memento Mori, a reminder of one's own mortality.
This rare and stunning ring is a wonderful example of historic Stuart Crystal jewelry from the Baroque (ca1680s) era! The gorgeous piece is crafted in 18kt yellow gold and sterling silver, and adorns a square-shaped rock crystal at the center of a decorative band. The crystal is beautifully faceted and rests in a closed backed setting, catching the light beautifully with every turn. Decorating the center is the hallmark of traditional Stuart Crystal jewelry - a set of fine initials (possibly "M" at the center of two opposing "C's") in exceptionally ornate gold lettering, surrounded by a curled border. This sentimental design rests on braided hair and was likely immortalizing the sentiments of a loved one, or in memory of someone who passed. The bezel set centerpiece is flanked on either side by a trio of additional sparkling rock crystal stones, adding more radiance to this gorgeous design. The stones are all set in sterling silver, while a simple yellow gold band with silver beaded accents rests at the back, providing a lovely mixed metals appeal. Perfect for the historian or antique collector, this ring is as rich in history as it is in beauty and would make a wonderful addition to any collection!
Measurements: The ring has a finger size 4 but could be resized. The rock crystal measures approximately 1/4" tall, a little more than 1/4" wide, and rests about 1/8" above the finger when worn. The band measures 1.5mm wide at the back.
Condition: Considering its age, the overall condition of the ring is excellent. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the yellow gold or sterling silver setting. The rock crystal is intact and free of chips or scratches, and the gold initials and hair remain intact and in excellent condition. There is a natural patina on the surface of the silver setting, which is normal for antique jewelry and adds to its beauty and character.