Lee Rossiter, a member of the Yorkshire Searchers Metal Detecting Club, found the ring in a field near Green Hammerton on a Sunday in April 2015. It was submitted to the British Museum by the local 'Finds Liaison Officer' where scientific testing confirmed the stones as a ruby and an emerald with the metal identified as roughly 80% gold, 10% silver and 10% copper. Dated to the 15th century, it assumes the form of a flower and is engraved in medieval French ne mem – bon.
Although declared treasure the ring was later returned to its finder after no museum, including the local Harrogate Museum, was able to raise the funds to purchase it. With the permission of the landowner (who shared in the proceeds of the sale), Rossiter engaged Cheshire-based Mark Littler, an independent valuer formerly with Tennants, to help him find a buyer.
“It was decided that an auction might not be the best course of action as the ring would be worth more to a private collector if it had not already been presented to the market” said Littler. He approached Wartski, in Mayfair – traditionally strong buyers of medieval jewellery – where director Kieran McCarthy was delighted to negotiate a private treaty sale for a five-figure sum.
“We have a strong interest in medieval rings and were thrilled to have the opportunity to purchase this one. Jewels of this calibre are extraordinarily rare and it is magical when the ground presents them as gifts to those who look for them.”
The ring is on display at TEFAF New York.