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Gold Navaratna Ring with Precious & Semi-Precious Stones
India
18th century

overall diameter: 2.4cm, weight: 5.9g, ring size: 9.25 (US), S (UK)

This beautiful and highly wearable talismanic finger ring comprises a scalloped gold band set with the navaratna stones in kundan settings. Additionally, the
band or hoop has been set with pairs of tiny ruby cabochons and a pair of small turquoise cabochons. The stones are set all the way around the ring.

Among the stones are a yellow topaz to represent Jupiter, a ruby to represent the sun, a coral to represent Mars, a pearl to represent the moon, and a
sapphire to represent Saturn.

Untracht (1997, p. 309) says that in Dravidian south India, the
navaratna gemstones are used as a rosary but elsewhere in India, they are used as a talismanic
device. The nine gems have multiple meanings and associations. One is that each gem represents the nine celestial Hindu deities and the nine 'planets' .
According to Untracht, rings set with the
navaratna stones are a 'much favoured ornament' in India.

The correct construction of a
navaratna ring could take a very long time. Says Untracht (p. 309): 'Before commissioning such a ring from a goldsmith, one first
brings the selected stones to a priest, who blesses them. At an auspicious time, they are then given to a goldsmith who will set thing in high-quality gold (22
karat). According to orthodox practice, when the gold setting is ready, each of the stones corresponding to a planet is set in the correct order of priority and
position, at a time auspicious for the planet. If this procedure is followed, the process might take more than a year to complete.'

The ring is stable and ready to be worn. The patina and styling suggest an 18th century dating and possibly earlier.

References:
Bala Krishnan, U.R., Jewels of the Nizams, Department of Culture, Government of India, 2001.
Barnard, N.,
Indian Jewellery, V&A Publishing, 2008.
Untracht, O.,
Traditional Jewelry of India, Thames & Hudson, 1997.

Provenance: UK art market

Inventory no.: 4940

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