Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mastery of Design: The Monkey Face Swivel Ring, 1800-1839

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Part of the collection of Reverend Townshend, this ring is set with Sunstone (feldspar) in a swivel gold setting, carved with a cameo of a monkey's head. The ring was made between 1800 and 1839 to showcase the stone and was never meant to be worn.

Curiously, the setting is much more whimsical than those of the other stones in the Reverend’s important collection. Through the swivel setting, the monkey's face can be turned away to reveal a smooth cabochon which shows the feldspar's clarity and bright color. 

This ring, like many which were acquired by Reverend Townshend wasd originally in the possession of Henry Philip Hope (d.1839) who formed a famous collection of diamonds and precious stones—a collection which included the famous Hope blue diamond, now in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington. 

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