Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
Btizzle5
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:46 pm

Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby Btizzle5 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:33 am

Hi all,

I inherited my great grandfather's rose gold wedding band. He came to the United States from Lithuania (which was controlled by Russia) in 1909. He lived in Southwestern Lithuania near Poland. The ring has a 56 russian kokoshnik marking with the left facing head which according to information i see on this website dates to around 1900? The assayer marks next to it are hard to read but seem to be a backwards R and a Pi symbol. How did assaying work? Did they inspect the rings at the place of their making or at the place of their buying? It is also marked with a "PB" which might be the makers initials. In some research online, i see that rose gold was somewhat invented in russia a bit before this, and was very popular there. I was wondering if anyone might be able to assist with some additional insight or information such as what "PB" might be, who the assayer might be, where the ring might have been made, or when? Thanks so much

Also of note, the ring was originally yellow gold plated. Any idea why they would gold plate a rose gold ring?

here are some photos

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Qrt.S
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Location: Helsinki Finland

Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby Qrt.S » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:26 pm

Your golden ring has nothing to do with Lithuania. It is most likely made in St. Petersburg between 1899-1904. The ring was "inspected" in the assay office before it was put for sale. The "inspection" was actually a test to find out whether the fineness was legal before the assayer punched his hallmark on the ring. Doing this he approved it and allowed to sell it. Minimum legal fineness was 56 zolotnik i.e. 585/1000 (14 karat) The assayer is ЯЛ (Latin YaL) is Yakov Lyapunov, active in StP 1899-1904. The maker, Cyrillic PB, (Latin RV) could be Rudolf Konstantinovich Veide active 1874-1915.

However, there is a "but" here. Therefore I stated "most likely made..." and "could...".... The reason for these assumptions is that to my knowledge Veide's maker's mark has an oval frame and he used dots (P.B.). But punches were worn out, broken and renewed. He might have used a rectangular frame too.

Mind my asking, but what makes you think that the ring is rose gold and why do you think is was gold plated. Why "was"? Somehow it doesn't make sense.... not to me, but?

Btizzle5
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:46 pm

Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby Btizzle5 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:32 pm

Hi thanks so much for the response. When I inherited the ring it was gold colored. I took it to a jeweler to get it resized so I could wear it (made it one size smaller) and when he heated it up it changed color to a rose color. He told me that he believed it was actually rose gold and that it had been gold plated. He asked if he wanted me to replate it in gold and I declined because I like the rose color as it seems to be the original. To clarify, I have not had it tested, I am only going on what the jeweler told me. Any thoughts?

Also, any thoughts on how my g grandfather may have gotten the ring in Lithuania? Was Russian jewelry shipped out and sold in other countries or would he have bought it in St. Petersburg. I know Lithuania was under control of Russia at this point in time. Obviously no way to really tell how he got it but would appreciate any thoughts.

AG2012
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Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby AG2012 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:43 pm

HI,
Rose gold was very popular in Russia at the time.I have jewelry made either of rose and yellow gold combination and also rose gold gilded with yellow gold.It was done for a good reason.Namely,even very thin layer of yellow gold (possibly even pure 24 K used for gilding) is very resistant and is not affected by e.g. skin acidity, unlike rose gold with 41.5 % copper in 14 K (.585 or more precisely .583) and develops dark patination.If heated and pickled, rose gold will turn yellowish, though, because copper oxide dissolves in pickle acid.In short, it can be treated with a simple acid, like citric acid, to dissolve copper off the surface. What remains is a shiny layer of nearly pure gold on top of a harder, more durable copper-gold alloy.This process is referred to as depletion gilding (compare with tumbaga gold alloy).The same happens if gold alloy is left in acid soil for very long time - copper salts are dissolved leaving almost pure gold after 1000 years or so.
Regards

AG2012
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Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby AG2012 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:47 pm

Btw.the ring made in St. Petersburg was traded, sold in Lithuania or elsewhere within the Empire, that is normal trading circulation.

Btizzle5
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:46 pm

Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby Btizzle5 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:36 pm

Thank you so much for all the information. I am so happy to know the history behind this heirloom.

Last question: if I were to wear it, would you recommend getting it re gilded or re plated with gold? Or do you think it would be fine as rose gold. Is it just a color preference or are there physical advantages.

Thanks

Qrt.S
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:32 am
Location: Helsinki Finland

Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby Qrt.S » Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:33 am

You got good answers from AG2012. Not much to add. Alternative your great grandfather lived i Lithuania, visited St. Petersburg, bought the ring there and returned, nothing strange with that...

About gold plate the ring or not. I wouldn't do anything with it, wear it as it is. If you gold plate it you in a way destroy its history (and value). The ring is over 100 years old!

AG2012
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Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby AG2012 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:15 am

Rose (pink) gold is beautiful, wear it and clean it with soap and warm water - it will not tarnish.
(Compare with Cartier trinity jewelry).
Regards

Btizzle5
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:46 pm

Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby Btizzle5 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:36 pm

Thank you both for your answers. I agree i love the rose gold color and will not do anything to it.

I did a bit of google research on Yakov Lyapunov and am seeing information saying that he was "An Extremely Important Imperial Russian Assayer In Saint Petersburg Who Assayed Many of Faberges Important Works".

I love the ring for sentimental reasons above all else, so in some ways it's value is relatively meaningless to me. That being said, I am curious how the same person (Yakov) would "assay" priceless faberge jewelry and at the same time a relatively small simple ring such as this one. Would Yakov have "assayed" each item himself, or was he just the head of an office that assayed all jewelry made in St. Petersburg. I assume the fact that he assayed it does not have any relationship to its quality?

(admin edit - see Posting Requirements )

I always assumed my great grandfather was relatively poor seeing as how he immigrated to the United States to work in the Pennsylvania coal mines. So i am just curious.

Robert

AG2012
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Re: Identifying my Great Grandfathers Old Russian/Lithuanian Ring

Postby AG2012 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:13 am

Head assayers were in charge of assay offices with varying number of employees; St Petersburg and Moscow being surely the biggest.
They were responsible for tax collecting and applied marks regardless how important silversmiths were.
Interesting video of Birmingham assay office:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_shZ064EnuE

Much is still done by hand in spite of improved technology.
Regards


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