Victorian Labradorite and Diamond Monkey Ring
When we discovered this simian face, peering from the midst of a selection of more conventional rings, we knew that this was a unique piece.
Created in 1860, this antique ring hails from the Victorian Era, a time when many jewellers were experimenting with the creation of a small number of animal pieces. Gems and previous metals carved into the likeness of snakes were particularly popular during the later Victorian period, but other creatures are more rare.
Every line on the monkeys furred face has been lovingly etched to bring out the colour of the stone - a testament to the makers patience and skill.
Whilst animal jewellery became more popular over time this piece comes from a time when few of a jewellers patrons would have been interested in such an object. Later pieces are more common, and are often carved from gem paste rather than a naturally occurring stone. However, the central gemstone here is a large labradorite - a mineral that had only been discovered in 1770, in the Labdrador region of Canada.
Labradorite is prized for its rich play of iridescent colours which are brought out during the carving process. In this case, the monkeys face shifts between soft grey and deep blue when turned, like clouds across a darkening sky.
History of this Piece
The face sits in a halo of diamonds, 2 carats of heart cut silver-set stones that ring the central stone. Two smaller diamonds form the glittering eyes, staring out from a stoical visage.
It most likely began as a stick pin, designed to be worn to keep a tie in place, or as a brooch. Later jewellers have taken the original central stone and added the shank to form the ring we see today. We believe that the halo of diamonds may have also been added at this point, increasing the piece's overall value and creating a more radiant setting for the original carving.
Cultural and Spiritual Significance
The monkey is a powerful symbol in many cultures. In China they represent wisdom and authority, as its pronunciation in mandarin is very similar to the word for high official. The Hindu faith venerates the monkey in the form of Hanuman, the ape deity, who embodies physical strength, tenacity and devotion.
In modern western crystal healing the Labradorite is believed to act as a boon to ones own spiritual energies, protecting from negative influence and boosting protective energies.
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