Victorian Essex Crystal Fox Ring Gold

The art form of reverse intaglio on crystal, sometimes called Essex Crystal, began in Europe, possibly in Belgium. The difference between reverse carving and intaglio is that an intaglio piece is carved into the front rather than the back of the surface. It is said that Thomas Cook first introduced this intricate process to England during the 1860s. His finished crystals were initially sold by Hancock’s in London. So why weren’t they called “Cook crystals” or “Hancock crystals”? Well, it so happened that a very popular artist named William Essex, who specialized in enamel miniatures, was assumed to have produced them because of the fineness of the workmanship. Essex was one of Queen Victoria’s favorite portrait artists and so it was probably just assumed that such beautiful work must be his. The mistaken attribution stuck!

This Victorian Essex Crystal ring was handcrafted in England around 1870. It features an adorable fox motif on a round cabochon cut crystal set in 9 karat gold. The crystal measures 14 mm in diameter and is 6.1 mm in depth, and has a Mother of Pearl backing. The intaglio work was done around 1870, probably it was originally made as a stick pin, and the mounting onto the ring was done later, with a wonderful amount of skill. The face is 16 x 16 x 9.0 mm off the finger, with a band width of 2.3 mm. This ring is a size 5.5 and weighs 4.3 grams. It is hallmarked with the gold purity mark, ‘9CT’ and the number, ‘2’.

Most Essex crystal designs fall into one of four categories: animals, birds, flowers, and nautical themes. Within the animal genre the most popular subjects were horses, dogs, and foxes!

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