Medieval zoomorphic sapphire ring. An important piece, horizontally set with a sapphire cabochon, originally used as a bead with lengthwise drill hole, in a closed backcollet setting, bezel gripped either side by two pairs of gaping mouths of animals, possibly dragons, with their bodies flowing round the band, their forelegs outstretched towards their heads, their hindlegs swallowed by gaping snakes whose tails intertwine to form the rest of the band. Tested yellow gold, approximately 9.52g in weight, circa 12th - 14th century.
Accompanied by documentation stating that this piece was found at Backwell, North Somerset in 2012; reference GLO-40F421 under the Portable Antiquities Scheme, with supporting report from the British Museum declaring this item is Treasure, Treasure reference 2012 T690. Accompanied by an X-ray fluorescence analysis report summary stating the composition of the metal. Sapphire identified by Raman spectroscopy.
During the 12th - 15th century, medieval rings featuring monsters or dragons with gaping mouths were a popular decorative feature, especially in conjunction with the collet and the bezel. See Cherry, J. 'Medieval Rings in The Ring: From Antiquity to the Twentieth Century', p.56.
Sapphires 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.
Further examples of rings with monsters' heads can be seen in the British Museum, items AF. 1867 and AF.1000.