A Renaissance swan

A Renaissance swan ring

This is such a rare ring, circa 1600, in the form of a swan. I cannot find a parallel example in reference books or extensive museum collections. I have seen a similar Renaissance ring in the form of a rabbit, once, but never a swan. The ring is high carat gold with an enamelled swan motif in a circular surround. The swan was used as an heraldic emblem by a number of families, yet as swans are royal birds (all are technically property of the monarch), it may relate to an official position at court, especially in that circular surround. The aristocratic swan has a legacy as a luxury status symbol that dates back centuries. Ownership of these regal avians denoted class, wealth and status. To protect swans as an exclusive commodity, in 1482 the crown ordained that only those with enormous wealth could keep the birds. This effectively meant that only the monarch, wealthy landowners and some large institutions like trade guilds, cathedrals and universities could afford swan ownership. The ring is size O and 1/2 [US 7 and 1/2]. An exceptional Renaissance piece.


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