"Cycles of Life: Rings From the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection" by Sandra Hindman, Beatriz Chadour-Sampson, Reine Hadjadj, and Jack Ogden



"Cycles of Life: Rings From the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection" by Sandra Hindman, Beatriz Chadour-Sampson, Reine Hadjadj, and Jack Ogden.

DESCRIPTION: Softcover. Publisher: Paul Holberton Publishing (2016). Pages: 260. Size: 8¾ x 6½ x 1 inch; 2 pounds. Summary: An unparalleled collection of rings dating from the 3rd to the 19th century, presented not chronologically but rather grouped into timeless themes - birth, love, betrothal, marriage, mourning and death - thereby achieving greater insight about the beliefs , sentiments, status, and practices of their former owners. Since his first purchase in 1970, Benjamin Zucker has assembled one of the largest collections of Jewish marriage rings in private hands and a collection of diamond jewelry that is unrivaled, even by De Beers.

With each ring selected for its exceptional quality of stones, rarity, and level of artistry, the collection features many fine examples of signet rings ranging from the 3rd to the 17th century; ancient Roman friendship and engagement rings; medieval posy rings; Renaissance and Baroque wedding rings; Jewish marriage rings, and memorial and death’s head memento mori rings from the 17th to the 19th century. They include a significant grouping of precious diamond-set rings. Many boast provenances dating back generations to Europe’s most prominent collecting families, including the de Clercqs and the Rothschilds.

In this remarkable book, these rings are newly studied by experts, including an essay by Zucker himself. Ultimately, these exquisite jewels – many of which have been the subject of national and international museum exhibitions, loans, and publications – form a remarkable testament to the discerning eye of Benjamin Zucker.

REVIEW: Les Enluminures New York, Paris, Chicago is pleased to present “Cycles of Life: Rings from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection,” an exhibition of over 40 exceptional museum-quality rings selected from the celebrated private collection of one of today’s world leading gem dealers, experts, and connoisseurs. Spanning from 3rd century A.D. through to the later part of the 19th century, the rings will be on public view together for the first time and for sale at Les Enluminures’ New York gallery from October 31 through December 6, 2014.

The collection features many fine examples of the major types of rings created during the late Rome, Migration Era, Romanesque and Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Modern periods individually selected for their exceptional quality of stones, rarity, and level of artistry. All but a few exceptions have been on loan to the Walters Art Museum, MD, since 1985. Many boast sterling provenances dating back generations to Europe’s most prominent collecting families, including the de Clercqs, and the Rothschilds as well as from the celebrated jewelry collectors Dame Joan Evans, Ernest Guilhou, Ralph Harari, and Melvin Gutman. Prices range from about $15,000 to the low seven figures.

The Benjamin Zucker Family Collection is renowned for its breadth and depth in certain areas, such as precious colored stones, Jewish marriage rings, and diamonds. Zucker began assembling his collection in 1969, when enchanted by a gold, enamel, and filigree 17th-century Jewish marriage ring, which was part the Melvin Gutman collection auction of antique jewelry at Sotheby Parke Bernet.

Prepared to commit his entire savings to win this one lot (the ring remains with the Zucker family), Benjamin, who was 29 at the time, was fortunately able to afford five of the six similar rings offered at that sale. This purchase proved life changing, prompting him to join the family business of dealing in gems and precious stones. Since his first purchase, he has assembled one of the largest collections of Jewish marriage rings in private hands along with, as noted by jewelry historian Diana Scarisbrick, “a collection of diamond jewelry that is unrivalled anywhere, even by De Beers.”

As the only type of jewelry worn continuously through the ages, finger rings have held many ceremonial facets and functions throughout history. Rather than presented chronologically; the rings will be displayed in sections organized according to timeless themes that form the cycles of life: birth, love, betrothal, marriage, mourning, and death.

Included among the vast array of styles illustrating these themes will be Signet rings ranging from the 3rd-17th centuries; Ancient Roman friendship and engagement rings; medieval Posy rings; Renaissance and Baroque wedding rings; Jewish marriage rings from the 17th-19th centuries, and memorial and Death’s Head memento mori rings from the 17th-19th centuries. They will include a significant grouping of precious diamond-set rings ranging from an uncut diamond from the 3rd-4thcentury, and table-cut, point-cut, and rose-cut diamonds from the 16th-18th centuries, to brilliant-cut diamonds from the 18th century.

According to Dr. Sandra Hindman, founder of Les Enluminures, “we are absolutely thrilled to have acquired this unparalleled collection. It's a dealer's dream come true at every imaginable level--the quality of diamonds, precious colored stones, and Jewish marriage rings offered are superb, as are the accompanying provenances. I have known Benjamin Zucker for a long time, and I have always admired his exquisite taste as a collector, as well as his acute intelligence. It's a wonderful honor to be able to pay tribute to his level of dedication by advancing further scholarship on his collection. We especially look forward to presenting these incredible examples of such dedicated connoisseurship to clients, old and new, as wearable, intimate works of art.”

“Cycles of Life” will detail how rings like sculpture, painting, and manuscript illumination are expressive of the culture of their time, while referencing the enduring allure of certain styles and settings, gems and cutting techniques. Moreover, the exhibition will explore the distinctive role of rings as the most personal forms of jewelry, by shedding greater insight about the beliefs, sentiments, status, and practices of their former owners.

Ultimately, these multifaceted discoveries form a remarkable testament to the discerning eye of Benjamin Zucker, who has assembled this extraordinary collection over last 40 years, many of which have been the subject of numerous national and international museum exhibitions, loans, and publications. Bearing witness to the cycles of life from birth to death, according to Zucker, “if you follow the rings, they are really like compasses leading you to lots of intellectual discoveries.”

Exhibition Highlights: De Clercq Roman Diamond Ring. Roman Empire, 3rd-4th century Once part of the fabled 19th century de Clercq collection of Roman and Byzantine jewelry, one of the stars of the collection on view is a natural, uncut, 1.75-carat diamond with a double pyramid set in a high openwork bezel. It was acquired by Benjamin Zucker in the 1970’s, and , and , and , and , and loaned as the showpiece of the international travelling exhibition, “Diamonds and the Power of Love,” organized by the De Beers Diamond Information Centre, and billed as, “The story of the diamond ring begins here.” On display most recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, this extremely rare find represents the finest quality and the second largest known surviving rough Roman diamond ring (of which seven examples are in the British Museum and six others are known to exist in private collections worldwide.)

When recounting the significance of this acquisition, Zucker commented, “In the early 1970’s, there weren’t more than a handful of serious ring collectors. Pride of place was to acquire a Roman uncut diamond ring and here was this diamond, very fine quality, symbolizing the power of the Roman mind, Adamas (‘unconquerable’), 4th century and from India…it really became the centerpiece of the diamond story to me…..He then added, “I love the coincidences that you have with this diamond ring. It has passed through many hands since the 4th century, but each person who has had it, I think, has had such a special relationship with it…

I had the impetus to write the biography of Elihu Yale, who made his fortune trading in diamonds and founded the university where I was educated, with Diana Scarisbrick, who wrote extensively about my collection in “Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty” (Jan. 2014). So, I have to say that these rings have brought me an immense amount of luck during my years of collecting and studying.”

Gold Jewish Marriage Ring set in a pendant. Eastern Europe?, 19th century? Long on loan to the Israel Museum, and fashioned into a larger pendant, this special category of ceremonial ring was worn by the bride on her middle finger, and only during the Jewish wedding itself. A multi-colored enameled tiled gabled roof forms the bezel (possibly alluding to the Temple of Jerusalem, but certainly referring to the home the couple would make together), which can be opened to reveal a hidden tablet with the inscription Mazal Tov (‘Good Luck’). The bezel sits on an extra wide hoop elaborately detailed with chainwork, beaded and filigree bosses, and enameled leaf motifs. While the earliest known versions date back to the mid-14th century, these rings recall the ancient Middle Eastern tradition established during the 7th and 8th centuries of purchasing a bride with the gold symbolizing the coin offered by the husband-to-be (stones were not permitted due to their fluctuating value).

Medieval Sapphire and Gold Ring set with a 10th- century Sapphire inscribed in Arabic. Italy, 14th century. From the collection of Ralph Harari, this substantial Gothic ring is set with a large, cabochon Ceylon sapphire. The sapphire, inscribed in Arabic script with the name ‘ABD AS SALAM IBN AHMAD,’ is flanked by dragons and decorated along the sides of the bezel with openwork fleur de lis. The inside of the hoop bears the inscription in Lombard lettering P[ER] AMOR TU E FATO E P[ER] AMOR TU IO TE, the outside PORTO, the whole translating ‘For love thou wast made and for love I wear thee’. Reset four centuries later in a European ring, it testifies to the flourishing gem trade of the period between East and West, and illustrates the long and varied history of gemstones.

Rothschild Diamond, Ruby, and Enamel Gimmel Ring. Germany, dated 1631. From the Rothschild Collection, and featured in the 1981 Colnaghi exhibit in London, this exquisite example of artistic virtuosity in both style and technique features an ornate double bezel set with a lustrous diamond and a deep pigeon blood red, Burmese ruby (prized for their color) supported by clasping enameled vivid red hearts at the shoulders. Hidden cavities underneath each bezel containing the figures of a baby and a skeleton serve as reminders of the vanity of earthly possessions.

Frequently referred to in literature of the period, Gimmel rings (from Latin gemmel, ‘twin’) were popular during the Renaissance. Used as love tokens and as marriage rings, they are composed of twin hoops that are fitted together. According to Benjamin Zucker, “Of course I see a beautiful ruby and diamond, very clear in color, and then the intricacy, but what tops all that is the philosophical statement made by this ring that life does not continue forever, and it’s sound to think of one’s last days throughout one’s life.”

The double hoop, engraved with the Latin inscription from the marriage service, translating ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder,' confirms that it was worn as a wedding ring. Moreover, the insides of the hoops are inscribed with the names of the couple: Jacob Sigmund von der Sachsen and Martha Wurmin, with the date 1631 [sic 1531?] engraved on one of the bezels.

Perpetual Calendar Ring. Gold and Black Enamel, England, circa 1830. Gold and enamel rings in the form of calendars with moving parts allowing for perpetual use were popular accessories in the 19th century, particularly for the wealthy. This fine example includes two bands framing the hoop. Highlighted in black enamel, the days of the week are located at the top band, with the months of the year appearing at the bottom, and the numeric dates located in between.

A fully-illustrated catalogue published by Paul Holberton, London, will accompany the exhibition. Divided into four sections: birth, marriage, death, and eternity, the catalogue will consist of detailed descriptions of every ring; an essay by Benjamin Zucker, "My Rings in the Journey of My Life,“ an introduction by Sandra Hindman, "The Cycle of Life and Finger Rings", and an extensive Bibliography.

Contributors include noted specialists Jack Ogden, Chief Executive of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain,on Ancient Rings and Diamond Rings; Reine Hadjadj, independent scholar, on Merovingian Rings; Sandra Hindman on Gothic Rings; Diana Scarisbrick, author and jewelry historian, on Renaissance Rings, and Beatriz Chadour-Sampson, jewelry historian, and former Curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s William and Judy Bollinger Jewellery Gallery, on Early Modern Rings and Jewish Wedding Rings.

Les Enluminures was founded in Paris in 1991 by Dr. Sandra Hindman in association with the Chicago-based business, and opened its New York gallery in May 2012. Specializing in manuscripts and miniatures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the gallery also offers for sale jewelry dating from c. 300 to 1650 A.D. including a wide range of rings from the Early Christian and Byzantine, Early Medieval, Gothic, and Renaissance and Baroque periods. It organizes four or five exhibitions a year, some travelling and in collaboration with other dealers, which are often accompanied by catalogues.

Les Enluminures exhibits at many prestigious art and antique shows, including: The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht; the Winter Antiques Show in New York, and Masterpiece in London. International clients of the gallery include: the Musée du Louvre in Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, as well as many other institutional and private clients worldwide.


My Rings in the Journey of my Life by​ Benjamin Zucker.

Rings and the Cycles of Life.



Everyday Life.



Последние комментарии

    Вы должны авторизоваться, чтобы оставлять комментарии.