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Home > Auctions > 23rd May 2017 > Medieval Elaborate Gold Ring Brooch with Sapphires

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LOT 0512

Sold for (Inc. bp): £20,460

1 1/2" (12.15 grams, 34mm).

A gold ring brooch in the form of four flowers, each set with a cabochon sapphire, thistle design between each flower; pin hinged to top thistle.

From an important private London, SW1, jewellery collection collection; acquired in the 1990s. Accompanied by a X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate.

The ring brooch was used to hold garments closed, or sometimes as a decorative element on a hat. The symbolism of flowers and gem stones were important in Medieval life and conveyed subtle messages by the owner. The flower on this brooch resembles a lily and is associated with the annunciation of the birth of Jesus by Gabriel. Symbolic meanings include the Trinity, the Virgin, royalty, chastity, chivalry, purity and majesty. It frequently accompanies depictions of both the Virgin Mary and virginal saints.

The thistle was also associated with the Virgin Mary, specifically the milk thistle , and was also believed to have medicinal properties, such as increasing the flow of a mother's milk, and help women nourish their children, as well as to relieve the thirst of infants bitten by venomous creatures.

Sapphires were reserved for royalty, upper nobility or high-ranking clergy and were said to hold magical protective powers, especially against poison. Sapphires were also regarded as high status health aids (able to cure a range of complaints) – and as a guarantee of morality, capable of reducing human lust and impurity of thought. The rare capacity of some sapphires of producing a star shape through the refraction of light also associated them with the Virgin Mary, one of whose symbols was a star.