George Spencer, the 4th Duke of Marlborough, owned an astonishing collection of carved gemstones and cameos. Named the Marlborough collection, this 18th-century jewelry is regarded as the best privately-owned jewelry collection. The majority of the 800 pieces collection is said to date back to antiquity. In the 19th century, however, this collection was broken in order to pay for repairs at Blenheim Palace. An enchanting gemstone from this collection was put up for sale in 2019 by Royal jeweler Wartski.
These sapphires, which are extremely hard, rank just below diamonds on the Mohs scale of hardness. Cutting and polishing the sapphire and precisely carving the delicate figure on the ring surely required lots of skills. This stunning sapphire ring was truly a testament to the opulence of the time.
So Who’s The Woman That’s Etched To The Stone?
The gorgeous woman that’s precisely etched to the stone seems to be Caesonia, Caligula’s fourth and last wife. History describes her as a woman of ‘reckless extravagance and wantonness’. Caligula and Caesonia had a very passionate and fiery relationship. Therefore, it’s no wonder that he wanted her portrait on his ring. However, their love didn’t last long. Hours after Caligula was murdered, Caesonia and her daughter were also murdered.
Since this ring is part of the Marlborough collection, it caused a huge sensation when it came up in the auction in 2019. The gemstones were sold in 1899. After that, many went into private collections. In the present, Wartski has a couple of other Marlborough gems in their collection. This includes an Italian cameo from the 16th century and a Roman golden sard. This features a portrait of Mark Antony.
So, what do you think about these incredible pieces of jewelry? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!