Diamond cluster ring with locket

This unique diamond cluster ring, dating from the 17th century, is exceptional because of the locket enclosed within it. 

The magnificent ring is decorated with eleven diamonds of different sizes. When the locket is opened, on the underside of the ring we see the head and shoulders portrait of a young man wearing a jabot. His clothes and haircut suggest that the ring was created in Western Europe around 1670-1680. In the base of the ring, lies the figurine of a man, resting on a green enamel background. Dressed in green and pink, the man carries a rope on his shoulder and has an oversized rose lying at this feet. The underside of the ring is richly decorated with a floral arrangement in pink, black and white enamel on a blue background. 

Jewellery from this period of such finesse and quality are rare. Pieces were often altered in function of the latest fashion, melted down for financial reasons or simply lost. They incarnate a period and a style of life in which jewellery and fashion in general indicated a certain social class. Aristocratic women asserted their prestige and prosperity through their jewellery.

A commemorative or an engagement ring?
The locket creates an aura of mystery about the ring’s vocation. The portrait of the young man could be interpreted as a souvenir of someone who has died. In this context, the figurine would represent the resurrected Jesus dressed as a gardener and appearing before Mary Magdalene. The garden, represented by the green background would evoke nature, which dies in winter and is re-born in the spring.
However, it could also be interpreted as a ‘Garden of Love’ and symbolise the fertility of spring. In this case, the rope on the gardener’s left shoulder would be a symbol of devotion and the rose at his feet an allusion to love. The ring could therefore have been offered as an engagement or wedding ring .

The DIVA has started in-depth research about the ring, in the hope of clearing up the mystery.

The Christian Bauwens Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, acquired this exceptional ring in 2020. It will be exhibited at the DIVA, the Diamond, Jewellery and Silverwork Museum  in Antwerp

Material / technique: 
Gold, enamel, diamonds
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Christian Bauwens Fund
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
DIVA – Museum of Silverwork, Jewellery and Diamonds, Antwerp