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 rising ‘international’ 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
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).