c. 1790-1800 Souvenir d’Amitie Neoclassical Micro-ivory Miniature-work Ring

A splendid c. 1780-1800 Neoclassical miniature-work sentimental ring, decorated with carved micro-ivory, wirework, and seed pearls atop a ground of woven hair. The miniature composition consists of a lady leaning against an altar of love, with a surrounding frame bearing…

c. 1790-1800 Souvenir d'Amitie Neoclassical Micro-ivory Miniature-work Ring

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A splendid c. 1780-1800 Neoclassical miniature-work sentimental ring, decorated with carved micro-ivory, wirework, and seed pearls atop a ground of woven hair. The miniature composition consists of a lady leaning against an altar of love, with a surrounding frame bearing the expression, “souvenir d’amitié” (memory of affection / friendship). A new ground of fine twisted and sunburst wirework has been laid over the hairwork to rectify damage from a prior restoration. Such amatory and friendship rings with miniature-work ring faces were commonly made in France, Germany, and England between 1780-1800s, spurred by a risinginternational’ European bourgeoisie culture linked by education, liberal values, French literacy, and a devotion to ‘cults’ of feeling and friendship. These rings were passed between family, friends, and lovers as little tokens of remembrance and affection. A likely German workmanship origin can be attributed due to the mixed-media composition (which combines micro-ivory, wire and hair work, seed pearls, and mother-of-pearl). The design of the ivory medallion frame, with left-right separation of the words paired with foliate motifs in between, is nearly identical to a c. 1800 design drawing (numbered 42376) in Debler’s Pattern Book at the Municipal Museum of Schwäbisch-Gmünd. Rings of this type are in the Nordiska Museet (NM.0141025 and NM.0141026), and the Koch Collection (cat. 987). Another is illustrated in “Schmuck: Klassizsmus und Biedermeier” by Brigitte Marquardt (see fig. 415).

Date: c. 1780-1800

Ring size: USA 9.25, UK R ½, EU 60

Materials: mother of pearl, microivory, gold wires, seed pearls, glass, solid 14k rose gold (unmarked; tested with electronic gold tester & nitric-muriatic acid)

Weight: 7.6 grams

Workmanship origin: German

Dimension of ring head: 30 x 18.8 mm

Depth of ring head: 6 mm

Width of shank 1.6 – 2.8 mm

Thickness of shank: 1.3 mm

Condition: the interior has been restored: old adhesive from a previous restoration was carefully removed, a new layer of wire ground was laid on top of the damaged original hairwork ground, and elements cleaned and re-secured. There are some scratches and age-related surface wear to the glass cover. The bezel around the glass is split at one small area (re-secured).

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