Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

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Since ancient times, astronomers across the world have used models of the sky to make calculations.

Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

Since ancient times, astronomers across the world have used models of the sky to make calculations. With the advent of the armillary sphere, stargazers were given a physical model to visualize the lines of celestial longitude and latitude better. Independently created in ancient Greece and ancient China, those armillary spheres consisted of spherical rings centered on either the Earth or the Sun. During the 16th and 17th centuries, those astronomy tools were sized down to become fashionable finger rings which moved like regular armillary spheres.


The British Museum has a collection of several armillary sphere rings which are perfectly well-crafted and detailed. When closed, they look like any other ring, yet as the different bands are fanned out, the rings take on exceptional quality. Built with anywhere between 2 to 8 moving bands, those intricate pieces of jewelry would need to have been executed by skilled craftsmen.


While the rings were sometimes plain, others had inscriptions or signs of the zodiac placed in enamel around the bands. As reported by jewelers at Black Adept, the folding rings were popular through the nineteenth century as either a way for the wearer to show off their education or as a token of faith. The use of soft high alloy gold made them particularly prone to wear and tear, which is why the British Museum’s examples are that precious.


If you’re fascinated by these foldable rings and want your mini-armillary sphere, Brooklyn-based Black Adept offers both three-band, and four-band armillary rings in a variety of materials.


Image credits: British Museum


Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres

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Thinking Humanity: Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres
Stunning 400-Year-Old Rings Unfold To Reveal Astronomical Spheres
Since ancient times, astronomers across the world have used models of the sky to make calculations.
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