STONE TRADE RINGS
Dozens of stone rings have been recovered from archeological sites in Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, Alabama and Louisiana. These sites date from the mid-seventeen hundreds through the eighteen hundreds. Trading records from the Hudson Bay Co. began listing stone rings in the 1750's. Two styles of stone rings predominate. The first has a large, center set, single stone which is approximately 5/16" in diameter and the second has a center set stone, approximately 3/16" in diameter which is flanked by one, two or three smaller diameter stones. Most, if not all of these known rings used a faceted or molded, glass cabochon and were not precious gem stones. Glass stones were commonly referred to as paste gems during this time period. The "stone" colors varied and included clear, green, pink, red to purple/blue. Most of these rings were made of brass although some were sterling silver and gold.
I make both types of stone rings which are described above. The 7 stone or bezel ( bezel is the mount or cup that the stone is set into) ring is a copy from an original, mid-1700's artifact from a private collection which is nearly identical in construction to artifacts found and/or on display at Fort Michilimackinac, Fort Ouitenon, Fort St. Joseph, Fort Niagra. and at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. I hand-cut a variety of modern stones to recreate, as closely as possible, the style and original colors. These include laboratory grown sapphires, which in effect are modern day "paste gems".
The single set stone or bezel ring is patterned after originals also found and/or on display at Fort Michilimackinac, Rock Island and the Rochester Museum and Science Center. These are set with rubies, amethyst, glass, garnets and sapphires, some faceted and some cabochon. All of my rings are cast in either sterling silver or brass using the lost wax method.
Mitch Lige, Silversmith