Medieval sapphire ring. Set with a hexagonal table cut natural sapphire in a closed back rubover setting, to an impressive solitaire design featuring floral engraving, a solid gallery and closed backholing, leading to tapering shoulders with floral engravings and flowing through to a solid D-shape shank. Tested yellow gold, circa 15th century.
Accompanied by documentation from the Portable Antiquities Scheme stating that this ring was found in Tarrant Crawford in 2019. It is recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme under reference number DEV-0AC761, and disclaimed under the Treasure Act, reference number 2019T1020.
The majority of sapphires from this era would have originated from Sri Lanka, and were a favourite choice in the Middle Ages, though so rare that they were reserved solely for royalty, upper nobility and certain high ranking clergymen. Sapphires were thought to be imbued with magical powers such as protecting the wearer from the effects of poison, preserving chastity, keeping the peace and curing snake bites. They were particularly sought after among the clergy as they were depicted as representative of heavenly virtue and fidelity.
The floral decoration on this particular ring showcases lilies (associated with the Virgin Mary), which would further imply a episcopal possible owner.