A gold and cameo ring commissioned by Elizabeth I following the English victory over the Spanish Armada (1588) could make up to £70,000 ($91,250).
The finely wrought piece is encrusted with rubies and lapis lazuli. There’s a bust of the queen and a portrait of an unidentified ship.
The ring was probably given to a high-ranking naval officer
Expert David Miller comments: “The portrait would judge that the ring dates from about 1585 to 1595.
“I am pretty sure that the portrait is by the artist Nicholas Hilliard as he designed a number of medals including the 1588 naval reward medal which is the first British war medal.”
The British defeated the Spanish with the help of fire ships, which they sent into the midst of the fleet – causing panic.
After a gruelling engagement off the coast of Gravelines, France the Spanish fleet were routed.
As the ships retreated round the coast of Scotland and Northern Ireland, many were caught in a storm and destroyed.
Unfortunately we don’t know who the intended recipient of this ring was.
Given the quality of the piece, it’s likely it would have been a high-ranking naval officer – possibly vice-admiral Sir Francis Drake (who led the defence against the Spanish) or Elizabeth’s advisor Sir Walter Raleigh.
Elizabeth is known to have gifted jewellery bearing her portrait.
Among the best known is the Sir Francis Drake Jewel, today housed in London’s V&A Museum, which she is thought to have given to Drake sometime after 1588.
The ring will sell at Timeline Auctions in London on September 5.
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