The Lunar New Year begins on February 19, when we will bid farewell to The Year of the Horse and greet another beloved animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac – the ram. Whether you call it The Year of the Ram, Sheep or Goat is really a matter of preference – all three names are acceptable. These horned and wooly creatures have featured in fine jewelry designs throughout the ages. Here are a few iconic jewels from the 20th century, along with one vintage piece available at a down-to-earth price.
David Webb. Among Webb’s most sought-after animal jewels, the Green Enamel, Ruby, Emerald and Diamond Ram’s Head Bangle Bracelet carried this description in a Sotheby’s catalog: “Designed as a ram’s-head with curling articulated body, applied throughout with translucent green enamel, studded with small gold spirals, the head set with 2 cabochon ruby eyes, further decorated with a cabochon ruby and diamond floral ornament, the tail decorated with a cabochon emerald and round diamonds, the whole set with 45 round diamonds weighing approximately 2.00 carats, mounted in 18 karat gold and platinum, signed David Webb.” The bracelet fetched $25,000 in a 2009 auction.
JAR. The incomparable American-in-Paris designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR) enjoyed a retrospective at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013. His pearl-encrusted Sheep’s Head Brooch was one of the stars of the exhibit; in fact a poster of the piece was struck to commemorate the show. While jewels by JAR often sell for six figures at auction, the poster is available at store.metmuseum.org for $75.
René Boivin. This oxidized gem-set Head of Ram Pendant by the House of Boivin was recently estimated by Bonham’s auction house at $7,600-$10,000. The circa 1965 piece is designed with textured rolling horns and oval-cut pink sapphire eyes. While it is widely held that Bovin designers rarely signed their jewels, this pendant is indeed signed (according to Bonham’s). It remains unsold.
How to Get the Designer Look for Less. If you want an affordable piece of jewelry to help celebrate The Year of the Ram, check out RubyLane.com. This vintage bracelet by Cadoro, in gold-tone metal with faux emerald eyes and sapphire-like details, is currently available for only $249.