As an avid antique and period ring collector, I was overjoyed to find out that I would be seeing, touching and trying on some of my favorite rings, I had only seen in jewelry books up close and personal and these rings would be for sale (one can dream) at the the upcoming exhibit and sale “Cycle of Life: Rings from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection” On public view together for the first time and for sale, it is being held at Les Enluminures’ New York gallery from October 31 through December 6, 2014.
The exhibit features over 40 exceptional museum-quality rings from the celebrated private collection of Benjamin Zucker, who, on two occasions I had the pleasure of interviewing for articles and to hear and witness first hand, his expertise, breadth of knowledge and exquisite taste in precious colored stones, Jewish wedding rings and diamonds.
My favorites of favorites, which I know will be on display and for sale is a Gimmel (from Latin gemellus- twin) ring ,which is is composed of two hoops that are fitted together. These rings became popular during the Renaissance and were given as love tokens and as marriage rings.
Personally I own two gimmel rings from the later Victorian Era for their sentimentality and meaning. But, none compared to this artistic and wondrous specimen. This one has a Burmese ruby (my most treasured gemstone) and diamond. The double hoop, engraved with the Latin inscription translating to ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder,’ confirms that it was worn as a wedding ring The shoulders of the ring, hands clasping red enamel hearts support the bezel and the insides of the hoops are inscribed with the names of the couple: Jacob Sigmund von der Sachsen and Martha Wurmin, with the date 1631 engraved on one of the bezels. It was originally part of the Rothschild collection. Says Zucker, “Of course I see a beautiful ruby and diamond, very clear in color, and then the intricacy, but what tops all that is the philosophical statement made by this ring that life does not continue forever, and it’s sound to think of one’s last days throughout one’s life.”
The display, spanning from 3rd century A.D. through to the later part of the 19thCentury will represent that rings were the only type of jewelry worn continuously through the ages but more importantly that that they have held many ceremonial facets and functions throughout history. Les Enluminures, Zucker and all of the experts and historians associated with the exhibit, sale and catalog, decided that rather than present the rings chronologically; they would be displayed in sections organized according to timeless themes that form the cycles of life: birth, love, betrothal, marriage, mourning, and death. Included in these themes will be Signet rings, Ancient Roman friendship and engagement rings; medieval Posy rings; Renaissance and Baroque wedding rings; Jewish marriage rings from the 17th-19th centuries, and memorial and Death’s Head memento mori rings from the 17th-19th century.
The exhibition will explore the distinctive role of rings as the most personal forms of jewelry, by shedding greater insight about the beliefs, sentiments, status, and practices of their former owners according to Zucker, “if you follow the rings, they are really like compasses leading you to lots of intellectual discoveries.”
All but a few exceptions have been on loan to the Walters Art Museum, MD, since 1985. Provenances date back to generations of Europe’s most prominent families, Another one ring that makes my skip more than one beat is the de Clercqs Roman diamond Ring. Roman Empire, 3rd-4th century. And there are more from famous collections: Dame Joan Evans, Ernest Guilhou, Ralph Harari, and Melvin Gutman.
I literally am waiting on baited breath to for the opening and to try on the rings that I could continue to dream of owning.
A little background:
The accompanying catalog will also be divided into the four “cycles of life” and will consist of detailed descriptions of every ring; an essay by Benjamin Zucker, “My Rings in the Journey of My Life“; an introduction by Sandra Hindman, “The Cycle of Life and Finger Rings”, and an extensive Bibliography.
Les Enluminures was founded in Paris in 1991 by Dr. Sandra Hindman in association with the Chicago-based business, and opened its New York gallery in May 2012.Keegan Goepfert is VP and Director of the New York and Chicago Galleries
The gallery offers jewelry for sale dating from c. 300 to 1650 A.D. including a wide range of rings from the Early Christian and Byzantine, Early Medieval, Gothic, and Renaissance and Baroque periods.