When jewellers turn storytellers

3 mins read

Tall stories come in ring-sized packages finds Maria Doulton, as she discovers the jewellers with a tale to tell. 

More than any other piece of jewellery, rings are loaded with messages. Wedding rings, knuckle-dusters, papal seals, signet rings on a pinkie finger, whopping great diamond solitaires, graduation rings: they all say something about you.

But some jewellers are certain that the reduced dimensions of a ring can do more than just send out a single message. A daring few, from Fulham Road to Istanbul, like to tell whole stories in a ring. Size, it seems, is not an issue when a jeweller has a burning tale to tell.

Abridged pocket editions are not a patch on the boiled-down literary masterpieces that British jewellery brand Theo Fennell creates in its Chelsea workshop. Wind in the Willows, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and even The Wizard of Oz are recounted in a few grams of gold and precious stones. The scene is set: cupboard doors open, panoramas are revealed and secrets are engraved as each little tale unfolds. And if you have your own story to tell, Theo Fennell will set it in a ring for you. Frogs, I am told, are particularly popular requests for engagement rings. And aren’t you curious to know the story behind two kissing amphibians?

At the Couture jewellery show in Las Vegas, Italian-born Alessio Boschi presented a series of rings that capture key moments in Italian history. The one that caught my eye was the Casanova. Sapphires represent the waters of Venice and architectural details remind us of the backdrop of the infamous ladies’ man’s exploits. On either side of the shank of the ring, there are two trap doors encrusted with Paraiba tourmalines through which an ant would barely fit. Behind each are depicted the pleasures of life as favoured by Giacomo Casanova. I can reveal that one of the Lilliputian surprises is a golden chicken leg representing the joy of eating. The others are best left to your imagination.

In Istanbul, Sevan Biçacki can pack the history of an empire into high-domed rings that draw you into their magical world, like peering into a very valuable and sophisticated snow-globe minus the snow. Micro mosaics made of tiles the width of a human hair, inverse stone carving, miniature painting and enamelling are just some of the ancient techniques Biçacki uses to narrate his exotic stories. Slip one on and Istanbul’s cultural history is at the very tip of your finger.


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