I have just been sent Cycles of Life: Rings from Benjamin Zucker Family collection. It is part book, part catalogue and produced by Les Enluminures, one of the world’s foremost dealers in medieval manuscripts and jewellery. I have written before about my personal passion for ancient and especially medieval jewellery and I won’t bore you by going over old ground. My enthusiasm is based on the fact that:
- Prices have been steadily rising.
- It is still possible to pick up really fantastic examples of jewellery that are over 2000 years old for relatively small sums (as little as a few hundred pounds).
- I have never had to wait long to dispose of an item (never longer than around 60 days) making individual items relatively liquid when compared to some alternative assets.
- Even quite a large collection takes up very little space and can be easily stored and transported.
- The individual items of jewellery are generally wearable and always attract great interest and gasps of admiration.
Benjamin Zucker’s collection has been organised into five different stages: birth, marriage, everyday life, death and eternity. The oldest example is a “Greek Snake Ring with Garnet Heart, Hellenistic Greece, 2nd-1st century BC” and there are many pieces from antiquity. My favourite pieces, however, are from the medieval period – the black letter posy rings and the heraldic signet rings.
Museum-quality jewellery has traditionally been the preserve of a small group of serious collectors. It tends to be bought and sold by dealers who cover a wide range of other antiquities; sometimes pieces come up for auction at the larger, international salesrooms; most often, it changes hands privately. If you look on Amazon, you’ll see there are quite a few books covering this subject. You could also try some of the following sources: www.medievalrings.com, which at any one time has more than 100 examples for sale, Etsy (www.etsy.com) and eBay (www.ebay.com). Sotheby’s and Christies are the two sale houses most likely to have suitable rings up for auction. Specialist dealers include TimeLine Originals (www.time-lines.co.uk), Peter Szuhay (www.peterszuhay.com), Sanda Lipton (www.antique-silver.com) and Spiral Artefacts (www.spiral.org.uk).