Endless talk of all things sparkly.

Q & A with Rings 1800-1910 author Verlaine Davies





I was thoroughly excited to get my copy of Rings 1800-1910: A Study of English and Related Designs written by Verlaine Davies in the mail. The book is exactly my kind of reading material on cold days like these past few. I didn’t expect to sit for an hour straight just in awe, looking at each photo and reading captions. This book is full of gorgeous rings and whether you are an avid collector, beginner, or even a antique jewelry dealer, this book is for you. I was lucky enough to interview author Verlaine Davies, to ask her a few questions about these intriguing rings of hers. To order a copy for yourself, email jmcohen@jmcohenrarebooks.com




Verlaine Davies: I have about 300 nineteenth century rings, most of which are in the book.



Verlaine Davies: That is a hard question to answer because many rings fitted a slot I was trying to fill for the book. I have to pick three rings. 1) Fig. 16 (page 16 of the book), that shows the portrait of a little girl, is exquisite and I was thrilled when I found it. 2) Fig. 53 (page 29) is an example of beautiful gold work. The tiny dove is delicately and realistically worked. 3) Fig. 54 (page 30) is a splendid example of the creativeness of the 19th c. jeweler with its three interchangeable bezels. Each bezel is its own work of art, and to have the original ring box adds to its rarity.

[to view these rings, purchase the book]



Verlaine Davies: Fig. 82 on page 39 is an example of a ring that almost went into the melting pot. I have a friend who lives near London; every time I went to visit Marilyn would tell me of some wonderful ring she knew of. We went to an antique market off Bond Street, London to look at a very small ring designed as a hand that held a ruby in the shape of a drop of blood. On the back of the hand are the crossed back to back Cs of the Castellani brothers. I got in a tizzy about whether to buy the ring because it was very expensive. Whenever I had a tough decision to make, Marilyn and I would go downstairs to the café in the antique market to have a cup of tea. I asked Marilyn if she would buy it. She said no because she did not like the ring, but I as a collector would have to decide if I would regret not buying it when I was on the plane back to American the next day. I bought the ring!

Once Marilyn phoned me in the States and started the conversation “I have bad news for you…..” guessing, I replied “You have found more rings for my collection.” She had, and somehow I managed to find the money to pay for them.

It has been an exciting hobby. Right now I am in negotiation with someone who would like to buy most of my collection for a ring museum he is planning to open this year. Many of the rings I own really belong in a museum because if they were worn they would soon be ruined. Antique rings should be worn for special occasions; they cannot take the rigors of daily life today.



Verlaine Davies: There are many dealers who have not done research and don’t know what they are selling, particularly on Ebay. First of all I recommend beginning collectors read my book because I wrote it to help collectors (and dealers) learn what to look for when buy a ring. Recently, there was a fraudulent example on Ebay of a ring that dated to about 1875 and was worth about $300. The seller said the ring was made between 1600 and something to 1800 and had the ring for sale for $2800.00. I e-mailed the seller with the correct information, but the seller chose to ignore my information.

Secondly, go to a reputable antique jewellery dealer to buy rings. Ask questions. A dealer may not offer information, but I found if I asked questions I would get an honest answer. Look at lots of rings. After a while one will get a ‘feeling’ that something is not quite right about a ring. If in doubt do not buy the ring. Even today, if I ‘feel’ there is something wrong I do not buy the ring.

Thirdly, always buy rings in the best condition you can. In my case, I was buying examples to photograph for the book. Sometimes the rings were not in the best condition but they still showed a particular style that I need for the book so I bought them.




{One of my favorite rings from the book}