Signet rings come from an ancient tradition. There is evidence that signet rings have existed from as early as 1400 BC, and have been worn throughout history as identifiers, useful tools, and forms of signature. These distinctive rings have long served their wearers with status and function and are still popular today.

So, what is a signet ring?


Signet rings, also known as seal rings, come from the Latin 'signum,' meaning 'sign.' Usually with a flat bezel, signet rings have signs or crests engraved into them. Traditionally, the engravings are family crests or coats of arms from high-born families.


These engravings serve a dual purpose: as well as denoting status and identity, the rings were made with their flat-top design so that they could be used to press into clay or wax seals, leaving an imprint. This imprint was once an important form of authentication; the seal from a signet ring is difficult to forge, and therefore was a key marker of signatures in a time where few people could write.


Signet Rings in Ancient Egypt


Many signet rings have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. A variety of materials were used by the Egyptians; rock crystal, amethyst, steatite, and gold. The designs were conservative and simple, and famous examples include those found in the tomb of Huy, Viceroy of Nubia under Tutankhamun (c. 1337-1327 BC). These rings served mostly administrative purposes.


Hieroglyphs of the name Nefer kheperu re was en Re, for Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaten, are engraved on this ring. Egypt, middle kingdom, 1379-1362 BC.

Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


Stirrup shaped gold finger ring. The bezel is incised with the prenomen or throne name, assumed on his accession by the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten. The bezel inscription also contains an incompletely written rebus meaning "all Egypt is in adoration." Egypt, 1352BC-1336BC. Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum.


Greece


Around 600 BC, signets with metal bezels of bronze, silver, and gold appear in Greece. They were often engraved with natural imagery and miniatures of Greek sculpture and art. The bezel also began to broaden in shape until the 5th century, where it became almost circular in shape. During the Hellenistic period (331 BC-27 BC), signet rings were sometimes set with precious stones and hardstones like cornelian and sard.


Gold signet ring: on the bezel Athena seated with an owl; the Greek inscription reads "Anaxiles". East Greek, 400 BC. Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum.


Gilt-bronze ring depicting a charioteer driving a bit (a two-horse chariot). 4th-3rd century BC. Chariots were popular sporting symbols for signet rings.

Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


Aphrodite and Eros in a gold intaglio ring. Western Greek, circa 400BC-370BC.

Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum.


From Greece, the signet ring traveled to Etruria where it also became popular. This is an Etruscan gold ring of the late 7th-7th century BC. The bezel is engraved with a griffin facing a lion. Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


Rome


Signets were important in Roman culture. Throughout the Roman period, the signet ring moved from iron to gold and silver as the wealth of the empire increased. The signet ring also became larger over time and set with more gemstones. Great artists of the time such as Gnaios engraved mythological and historical scenes onto the rings, giving them allegorical meaning. Emperor Augustus, taking a leaf out of Alexander's book, ordered a ring with his own portrait on it. Signet rings are mentioned with sentimental effect in Ovid, as symbols of him kept by his friend and lover after he is banished.


Signets also branched out from their traditional use during the Roman periods; they depicted favorite sports, stories, public figures, or loved ones. Some men even had nude women or pornographic scenes engraved onto their rings as reminders of their mistresses! The shoulders of the rings also became extensions of the design, containing further engravings.


An eagle engraved bezel from the 3rd or 4th century with shoulders inscribed with Greek letters. The eagle was an attribute of Jupiter, the deity of the state, so the ring probably belonged to a soldier. Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


1st-century Roman gold signet ring with comic mask. Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


Byzantium


In the Byzantine period, Christian symbols and imagery pervaded. Biblical images such as the monogram of Christ, the lamb, virgins and saints were all developed into signet rings. The emphasis on figures shifted also to more of a focus on words. The demand for signet rings was high, so goldsmiths began stocking standard designs, ready to be engraved to order.


Gold finger ring with bezel showing Christ and Virgin, the former blessing bridegroom and the latter the bride. Each face of the octagonal ring hoop depicts a scene from the life of Christ: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation in the Temple, Adoration, Crucifixion, and Angel at the Tomb. 6th-7th century (early Byzantine). Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum.


9th-century gold signet ring decorated with birds and monsters in lozenges alternating with the name + A LH ST A(and runic N) in roundels, with stylized leaf edges.

Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


11th century Byzantine enameled gold ring, engraved with a Greek inscription meaning 'Lord, help Thy servant Nicetas captain of the imperial guard.' Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


Pan holding his pipes in intaglio, with gold lion engraved shoulders. The sides of the bezel are engraved in Greek and read 'The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear' from Psalm 27. 12th century. Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


The Middle Ages


In the medieval period, signet rings were primarily used as signatures for sealing letters. A recognizable seal could authenticate a message. Early medieval signet rings were inscribed with owner's names or messages on the bezel, such as a Latin example translating as 'read what is written, hide what is read,' indicating a private, confidential letter.


Heraldry also rose in popularity, with arms and crests being engraved more often. For people of lower classes who did not have family crests or arms, merchant trade tools could be engraved onto the rings instead. For example, a mason might have a hammer, or a tailor might have scissors, alongside engraved initials of the maker.


During the middle ages, with the invention of sealing wax, signet rings underwent an important change; their designs moved from being mostly raised engravings to being sunken (intaglio) in order to create a raised effect on the wax they would be pressed onto.


"As David Hinton recently pointed out, the number and variety of surviving rings from the Middle Ages is an indication not only of their use for business and official purposes but also of the increase in communication by private letters." - Diana Scarisbrick in Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty

Late 15th-century gold ring associated with Richard III, whose badge was a boar. The back of the bezel is inscribed with 'honneur et joye' aspiring to the bliss and purity of heaven. Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


Gold and engraved sapphire ring. The sapphire is an older piece, likely from 100 BC-1 BC, and it has been set into gold somewhere between the 12th and 14th centuries. At this time, Roman or Hellenistic images of gods or mythological figures were not so much misunderstood as re-interpreted in a Christian framework.

The inscription around the bezel of the ring: 'Tecta lege, lecta tege' is translated as 'Read what is written, hide what is read' and shows the ring's use as a personal signet. The sapphire is set in an open-backed mount, allowing it to touch the skin of the wearer. Direct contact of the stone with the skin was believed to convey a medicinal or amuletic benefit.

Photo and info © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


Renaissance


Whilst some Renaissance signet rings were set with carvings of contemporary rulers, many rings were also collected and venerated from previous family members as heirlooms. When new rings were made with heraldic symbols, bloodstone was often used as the hardstone for engraving, as the red specks within it were seen to represent blood and therefore lineage.

During the renaissance, merchant signets became less intricate and more plainly utilitarian, whilst signets bearing initials grew in decorative aspects, with elaborate shoulders and frequent floral motifs. A new tradition also emerged for initial signets entwining the two initials of a recently married couple. Initials were also sometimes added to heraldic crest bezels.


Silver engraved signet ring with initials, 16th Century, England. Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum.


Gold signet ring showing a dog on a leash under a tree, with the initials IL, c. 1500-1600.

Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


The Lee Ring: chalcedony intaglio ring with enameled gold back, 1544-1575. Sir Thomas Gresham was a mercer, trading in woolen cloth, silks, velvets, and tapestries between England and Flanders and acting as an agent to the Netherlands. Gresham's badge was the grasshopper and this can be seen, brightly enameled on the back of this ring. Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


Gold and enamel signet ring, c. 1600. Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


Gold signet ring with bone on the back, c. 1600-1650. The skull on this ring and the piece of bone set in the back of the bezel so that it would touch the skin of the wearer were potent symbols of mortality. 'Memento mori' or 'remember that you must die' imagery was found in poetry, paintings, and jewelry, a reminder to the Christian of the need to keep their soul in good order for the final judgment. The name 'Edward Cope' engraved in reverse around the skull shows that it was used as a signet ring.

Photo and info © The Victoria and Albert Museum.

The 18th Century


The 18th century saw a change in how signet rings were used and perceived. Both the Duc d'Orléans in France and the Duke of Devonshire in England collected ancient and antique Renaissance jewelry, bringing them into public focus. The 18th-century fascination with ancient Greek and Roman cultures also saw a rise in signet rings being engraved once more with beloved public figures of the time, including rulers, philosophers, and royals.


The demand for classical jewels grew higher as the century progressed, but only the richest could afford them. As such, by the end of the century, a large market appeared for mass-produced lookalikes using pastes. By harking back to classical styles, the elaborate shoulders and decorative elements also fell out of style, calling back to earlier, simpler tastes.


The signet ring of the 2nd Duke of Devonshire (1672-1729) a collector of engraved jewelry. The aquamarine intaglio shows Empress Sabina and dates back to the 16th century. It is set in an early 18th-century gold ring with blue enamel and the Duke's cipher beneath a crown on the back. Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


Bloodstone intaglio signet ring in gold. Features a falcon, a lion-headed serpent, and an ibis. 1700-1725. Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


19th Century


In the 19th century, the fascination for classicism grew into nostalgia for the renaissance and medieval periods. Along with the Romantic movements in art and literature, Romanticism abounded in jewelry. Meanwhile, the signet ring continued in its use as a wax seal. John Everett Millais, famous for his painting of Shakespeare's Ophelia, solidified his friendship with William Holman Hunt by marking a signet ring.


The signet of the 6th Duke of Devonshire. The chrysoprase intaglio bears the Duke's monogram within the collar of the Order of the Garter. Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


Carnelian intaglio set in gold mounted in rose-cut diamonds. The intaglio here depicts Victory, a winged figure driving a chariot, c. 1810. Photo © The Victoria and Albert Museum.


Signet ring shapes from a late 19th-century catalog from T. Moring, showing the most popular designs. Photo and Info via Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick.


2 of AAJ's own rare signet rings:

Green: early/mid-Victorian 18-carat signet ring with a secret key. The key is hinged and folds into the back of the ring face. It would have been used to open a box of documents or perhaps jewelry. The bloodstone intaglio is carved into a ship and castle battlement, the flag announcing 'Montevideo.'

Blue: a Georgian signet ring also with a removable document casket key.


A Victorian photo locket signet ring, also an AAJ find.


Hardstone intaglio signet rings from AAJ.


Signet Rings Today


Eventually, the signet ring's primary function would be replaced by the glue-sealed envelope. However, the signet continues to be the 'mark of a gentleman,' denoting status. Freemasons wear signets, as do certain military figures, as a sign of rank. To this day, signet rings are a rare example of a unisex item of jewelry, beloved and worn by both men and women. The traditional elitism of the ring has worn away, and they can be worn and enjoyed by anyone.


Another one of AAJ's own to sign off: a 1940s signet ring with a photo locket compartment.


For more antique jewelry to feast your eyes on, visit AAJ's Instagram.


It seems that people have always had a fascination with conquering the heavens. Long before the world of space travel, airports and airbuses, however, the humble hot air balloon captivated and inspired 18th century Europe. The invention of the balloon struck European culture 'like a thunderbolt,' according to Tom D. Crouch, the senior aeronautics curator at the Smithsonian.


The first-ever untethered hot air balloon flight was Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes on November 21st, 1783, in Annonay, France. The balloon was designed by the Montgolfier brothers, who were the inventors of the popular oval balloon shape. On that first flight, the balloon rose to 50 feet. The men traveled 5 miles in 25 minutes. It was a sensation. News of the event traveled fast through Europe, capturing the imaginations of artists, makers, and designers.


Just under two weeks later, on December 1st, 1783, J.A. C. Charles and M.N. Robert made the first free flight aboard a hydrogen balloon from the Jardin des Tuileries. Almost 400,000 people (at the time, this was about half the population of Paris) went out to watch the flight.


'"It is impossible to describe that moment:" wrote one observer of a balloon launch, "the women in tears, the common people raising their hands to the sky in deep silence; the passengers leaning out of the gallery, waving and crying out in joy… the feeling of fright gives way to wonder." One group of spectators greeted a party of returning aeronauts with the question: "Are you men or Gods?" In an age when human beings could fly, what other wonders might the future hold?' - The Landing Of J.A.C. Charles And M.N. Robert via The Smithsonian

In the decades following 1783, aeronautics became popular ways of celebrating events. They were seen as shows, performances, and fireworks were often released from the balloons once they were in the air.


With balloon mania trickling across Europe, it is natural that balloons became a popular symbol in decorative arts, including jewelry. The balloon symbolized the potential of human progression and technological advancement; it was a hopeful symbol, looking to future possibilities that seemed sky-high and endless.


Diamond and Sapphire Balloon ring from AAJ, formerly a stickpin


Gold figural pendant, circa 1783 – 1784, commemorating the inaugural flight of the first manned hydrogen balloon. It depicts Jacques Charles and Nicolas Robert in the gondola compartment of their hydrogen balloon waving flags as they begin their ascent.

Via Rowan and Rowan.


A French silver, diamond, and ruby ballooning ring, early 19th century, via Heritage Auctions.


A very similar design found in Rings: Alice and Louis Koch Collection by Ann Beatriz Chadour (1994). This is a gold, silver, diamond, and ruby ring from 1783.


"Flight of hot air balloon in front of the Conciergerie in Paris, animated by characters" and "Flight of balloon in the Tuileries Garden". Octagonal gouache miniatures forming pendants. Louis-Nicolas and Henri-Joseph Van Blarenberghe. Both 1783. Via Osenat.


One tortoiseshell snuff box, ornamented with a miniature balloon, with the fabric in diamonds and the basket in gold, from the Penn-Gaskell collection. Via © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.


French chatelaine depicting four ballooning scenes, via the Kendall Ballooning and Early Aviation Collection, NCT Archive.


Satire on the balloon craze, showing male and female 'physicists' in bizarre costumes. Illustration from 'Histoire des ballons et des aeronautes celebres: 1783-1800' (History of balloons and famous aeronauts), by Gaston Tisandier (1843-1899), published in 1887.

Via © Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library.


Although a handful of women (mostly aeronaut's wives) had been up in balloons before her, Sophie Blanchard came to be the most famous and celebrated female balloonist in France in the 19th century. Her aeronaut husband, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, took her up in her first flight in 1804. From then, the small woman took on solo flights, and when her husband died, she commissioned her own small silk balloon with a special low-cut basket design.

"Blanchard was fearless to the point of recklessness—she was knocked unconscious when she flew too high to avoid a hailstorm, she would fall asleep in her balloon for hours, and suffered nosebleeds and frostbite when she ballooned over the Alps to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday." - Hadley Meares for Atlas Obscura

Unfortunately, on July 9, 1819, Sophie fell to her death after her balloon caught fire over Paris. She had been attempting to release a firework.


French balloonist Sophie Blanchard, standing in the decorated basket of her balloon during her flight in Milan, Italy, in 1811. Via the Library of Congress.


The most popular image to show on decorative arts, however, remains the flight over the Tuileries in Paris. Many snuff boxes, fans, pocketwatches, buttons, and jewelry boxes were hand-painted and decorated with the famous scene, as a celebration of the success.


Engraved gold snuff or tobacco box with balloon motif, 1783-1795, Switzerland. Via the V&A.


A French Snuffbox with Miniature Balloon-Related Watercolor, late 18th-early 19th century. Via Heritage Auctions.


Bilston Enameled Patch or Snuff Box with Ballooning Motif, circa 1790. Via Heritage Auctions.


Fan with hot air balloon scene, via the Kendall Ballooning and Early Aviation Collection, NCT Archive.


Pocket watch with hot air balloon cover, circa. 1790, via the Kendall Ballooning and Early Aviation Collection, NCT Archive.


One set of six silver lined buttons (French) painted with balloon scenes from the Penn-Gaskell collection.

Via © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.


One lid of snuff box. Inlaid ivory and tortoiseshell surround, painted scene Montgolfier's balloon ascent at Annonay. 1783-1800.

Via © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.


One umbrella top, china on copper, inscribed Lunardi. Showing a balloon & crowds.

Via © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.


18th Century print, via the Smithsonian.


Late 18th century print of the Montgolfier Balloon, via the Smithsonian.


French wood etui box for containing silver with balloon motif, early 19th century.

Via Ruby Lane.



Gouache in a metal frame in the style of Henri-Joseph van Blarenberge, c. 1783.

Via Lot Search.


A Dutch silver-cased verge pocket watch with balloon illustration, late 18th century.

Via Heritage Auctions.


Gouache in a metal frame in the style of Henri-Joseph van Blarenberge, c. 1783.

Via Lot Search.


To see more gorgeous antique jewelry, visit AAJ's Instagram.



Who Was Marie Antoinette?


Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) is one of history's most iconic and controversial queens. Her nickname was Madame Déficit, her hair was three feet high, and she lived in luxury, spending huge amounts on food, clothes, gambling, and jewelry during a time of financial crisis for France.


Born Archduchess of Austria, daughter to Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I of the Holy Roman Empire, Marie was married to Louis-Auguste, later Louis XVI, at just fourteen years old. In 1774, her husband became King, and she became Queen of France.


Marie Antoinette with a Rose by Vigée Le Brun, 1783, via the NYT.


Marie Antoinette was immediately unpopular. As well as her heavy spending, Marie was surrounded by scandal, accused of affairs, and of sympathizing with other countries, such as her childhood home of Austria. There were rumors that she decorated a chateau on the grounds of Versailles with gold and diamond-studded walls. Her hair poufs and magnificent court dresses were custom designed. She only officially consummated her marriage to Louis XVI in 1777, and her lack of children and heirs up until that point was strongly disapproved of. She was always, however, known for her style and taste. She was an early fashion icon, even if her status as such landed her in hot water.


After being placed on house arrest in Tulieres during the Revolution, and planning a failed escape from France, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were executed by the guillotine in January of 1793 in the Place de la Révolution. Before her death, Marie's hair was shaved off, her hands were bound, and she was paraded through Paris to the scaffold.


However, the night before her arrest, she took great care to wrap up her jewelry in cotton and place them into a wooden box. This box was sent to Vienna where it was placed with a friend of the Queen. Marie's daughter, Marie-Thérèse, survived the revolution, and when released in 1795, journeyed back to Vienna to reclaim her mother's jewels. Since then, they have been passed down her line of descendants.


Marie Antoinette's Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family


At an important 2018 auction at Sotheby's, the Bourbon-Parma family put several of Marie Antoinette's personal jewels up for sale. The Bourbon-Parma family descends from a number of important ruling families in Europe, including the Habsburgs. The family is said to have produced Kings and Queens of France as well as Emperors of Austria. So this is some of Marie Antoinette's preciously guarded jewels have ended up; the Queen might never have escaped the revolution, but some of her prized possessions remain intact.


Bourbon-Parma family pieces up for auction at Sotheby's.

A natural pearl and diamond pendant that belonged to Marie Antoinette, 18th century. This pendant used to hang from the three-strand pearl necklace below. This beautiful piece sold well above estimate, for £27,881,497. Photos and info via Sotheby's.

Natural pearl and diamond necklace consisting of three rows of slightly graduated pearls. The star motif clasp is set with rose-cut diamonds. It was sold for £1,756,610. Via Sotheby's.

Enamel and seed pearl pocket watch, 18th century, belonging to Marie Antoinette. Inner engraving reading M.A. Via Sotheby's.

Late 18th-century brooch belonging to Marie Antoinette featuring cushion and circular-cut diamonds, with a detachable pear-shaped yellow diamond that may have been added later. Via Sotheby's.

Late 19th-century brooch belonging to Archduchess Marie Anne of Austria. The stones used once belonged to Marie Antoinette. Via Sotheby's.

Diamond and woven hair ring, late 18th century. The ring reads MA for Marie Antoinette and contains a lock of her hair. Via Sotheby's.

Natural pearl and diamond pendant earrings, late 18th century, from Marie Antoinette's collection. Via Sotheby's.

Diamond ring with a miniature depicting Marie Antoinette, late 18th century. The ring came from Marie herself and was bequeathed to her daughter after her death. Via Sotheby's.

The natural pearl clasp on this necklace belonged to Marie Antoinette and is detachable. It once connected to a six-string pearl bracelet in the 18th century. Via Sotheby's.

This cushion-cut diamond parure was made using five diamonds from Marie Antoinette's collection that had been passed down to her daughter. Via Sotheby's.


"I think she probably was one of the original, you know, the original 'it girl'. Honestly, in terms of her style and her relationship to fashion and jewelry."

- Frank Everett, sales director for Sotheby's Jewelry, via CBS.



The Affair of the Diamond Necklace


In 1772, Louis XV of France decided to make his mistress Madame du Barry a necklace at costing roughly $15 million in today’s terms. His jewelers began to assemble the necklace but it took a long time considering the number of diamonds needed; in the meantime, Louis XV died of smallpox. The jewelers were then left with a hugely extravagant 17 diamond necklace. They hoped to sell it to Marie Antoinette, thinking she would be one of the only people wealthy enough to purchase it, however, she did not.


Later, a con artist named Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, also known as Jeanne de la Motte, came up with a plan to steal the necklace. Her scheme involved forgeries and lookalikes of the Queen. Once sold, the necklace was dissembled and sold in pieces on the black markets of Paris. The Queen was accused of having been involved in the scheme to steal from the crown jewelers, and despite being acquitted of the crime, many of her subjects still believed her to be guilty. As such, her reputation became even more tied with diamonds and even more associated with scandal.


A reconstruction of the necklace in question made in zircon instead of diamonds.

Photo via Wikipedia Commons.


The Sutherland Pearls


This diamond, pearl, and ruby zig-zag necklace is made up of pearls that belonged to Marie Antoinette. The pearls were given to Marie Antoinette by the British Lady Sutherland, who also sent the Queen clothes and linen after she was imprisoned. The Queen gave a bag of pearls back to Lady Sutherland for safekeeping when the situation became dangerous for her. After her failed escape and death, the pearls were fashioned into this necklace.


Via Christie's.


Commemorative Pieces


There are a number of jewels out there now that have claims to provenance from Marie Antoinette. However, there is also an even greater number celebrating and remembering her as a character, as a queen, and of course, as a fashion icon. Marie Antoinette's legacy lives on not just in the jewels she owned, but the jewels she inspired.


A pendant locket with a lock of hair, set under glass or rock-crystal with an inscribed card and mounted in a gold filigree setting, late 18th century.

The lock of hair could be Marie Antoinette's, and certainly claims to be; the inscription of the back on the locket reads "a lock of hair of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, given by her to Lady Abercorn by whom it was given to her sister Lady Julia Lockwood, whose daughter Lady Napier gave it to W.S. 1853."

Photo via The British Museum.

Reverse side; inscription.

Gold and diamond bracelet clasps with blue glass. These kinds of clasps were worn one on each wrist with bracelets. These two are connected to Marie Antoinette, but the inscription reads MC instead of MA. c. 1770. Via the V&A.



Late 18th-century rococo cameo gem-set ring depicting Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, believed to be of French origin. Via Antique Jewel.


19th-century gold and enamel parure with portraits of famous french royalty. Marie Antoinette is depicted on the earrings twice and on the central pendant portrait. Via The British Museum.

A jasperware portrait medallion of Marie Antoinette, 1780-1790, England. Via The British Museum.


Marie Antoinette portrait miniature gold ring with diamond surround circa 1783. Courtesy of Fabian de Montjoye.

Another ring from ten years later in 1793: Marie Antoinette, in quite a different mood. En Grisaille miniature on ivory, set in gold. A sketch was made of her during her trial, The Conciergerie (2nd August 1793 - 16th October 1793) when she was very weak and ill, and the sketch used for this ring. This image would have been of Marie during her last days when it is said that her hair turned white from distress. Courtesy of Fabian de Montjoye.


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