Among the hottest trends in jewelry right now are double rings - rings whose designs span two fingers. It's considered a look that's new, hot, fresh, and very 2016.
So even though I know that there's nothing new under the sun, I was surprised when I saw this ring, upper left, last week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The shadow reveals the two rings beneath the three stones, and the black-and-white photo, right, from the museum's web site shows the joined rings more clearly.
Featuring an emerald flanked by two rose-cut diamonds set in gold, the double ring was made in New York in 1895 by the well-regarded jewelry firm of Marcus & Company. The company's founder, Herman Marcus (1828-1899), was known for taking inspiration from the past for his designs, and this ring is in the Renaissance revival style popular at the time. So very 1895, by way of the 16th century.
But it turns out that the design is even older than that. A little more investigation, and I learned that the double ring design dates back at least to the 1st century BC, when the ring, lower right, was made in Hellenistic Greece. With an amethyst flanked by two garnets set in twisted bezels, this gold ring would be right in style today. Proving that, once again, what's old (even very old!) is new again.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.