A Taste for Antiquity

sapphire ring

Sapphire ring, 10th-11th century, Anglo-Saxon

I suppose I’ve been interested in antiquity all my life. Curious about ancient civilizations, I went to museums and pored over books in my mother’s extensive library. My love of jewelry has also been life-long, but it took a ring — this ring, in fact — to put the two together, in my mind. (Let’s get together, yah yah yah…)

I first heard of it in 2011, and was immediately taken by the design, the beautiful sapphire, the fine gold-work. I wanted to own it, I wanted to wear it. And if I couldn’t own it or wear it, I wanted to own and wear a replica of it.

(Interestingly, they’re having trouble dating the ring. They called in experts to discuss it in January, and came to a few new conclusions: it may be older than originally thought, it might have belonged to royalty. I think I love it the more for being mysterious!)

Ring; Western European, gold set with a cabochon sapphire, circa 1300-1400

Ring; Western European, gold set with a cabochon sapphire, circa 1300-1400

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how lovely these ancient jewelry pieces are. The simplicity of this ring to your left, the interesting shape (designed around the stone), has a charm all its own. Call it “primitive” if you will, but I call it elegant.

There’s a gravity to ancient objects. They feel old. They’re not like modern jewelry, or even antique jewelry — and I’m not speaking of the technical skills required to make them, it’s not that. It’s an honesty about them. They are what they are. And I’m attracted to ruins, and ancient places; that sense of “old”, that feeling of deep history.

And so, here I am with a new blog, celebrating old jewelry.

I have nothing against modern jewelry — or modern fashion for that matter — but rather than join all the other people (online and off) trying to predict the “new” thing or the “next” thing, I’d rather bring your attention to the “old” thing. Forget the Spring 2013 Pantone colors. Let me show you these fabulous pieces of antiquity.

Trust me, this stuff never goes out of style. I hope you’ll join me!


  1. Michael Zilles says:


    I share your particular enthusiasm about this piece of history. I’ve read about the dissussions belonging to this ring an there it had been mentioned a replica of this ring to understand the distinct process of crafting the jewel. I was not able to obtain the source or the name of the modern artisan. Please let me know if you have been so lucky to actually get an replica, I would appreciate to get one of my own.

    Kind regards,

    Michael Zilles

    • Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by! The replica was made by The Little Diamond Shop in York, owned by Ogden of Harrogate, a family of jewelers (now into the fifth generation.) The founder was a renowned historian, who was named ‘Advising Goldsmith to the British Museum’ in 1932, aiding in restoration, so I think there’s probably a strong taste for antiquity running in the family. I’ve met Jack Ogden, one of the world’s foremost experts in ancient jewelry, and you should definitely check out his books.

      Anyway, a replica of this ring is out of my reach (probably until I can make one of my own, har har.) Let me know if you find anything out about getting your own!


  2. I love your blog (and I loved Silver Rockets, too!) – did you ever make a replica of the Anglo-Saxon sapphire ring? I don’t buy a lot of jewelry, but I have to say, that is something I would consider :))

    Keep up the beautiful work!

    • Hi Amelia! I haven’t made one yet, no — I’m years away from that level of skill, I think. Still, it’s something to shoot for! I’d like to make it, and lots more besides. Someday I will!

      Thanks for stopping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed Silver Rockets! 😀