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Once known as the largest ring manufacturers in the world, the history of Ostby & Barton is a bit of a Cinderella story befallen by tragedy.
Engelhart Ostby was a Norwegian trained jeweler who emigrated to the United States in 1869. After working for a number of jewelers, Ostby met Nathan Barton and together founded Ostby & Barton Co. in 1879.
Beginning with less than $3,000 to their name, Ostby & Barton found fast success; taking the jewelry business by storm and quickly becoming a household name.
But all of that good fortune came to a halt in April of 1912, when Ostby and his daughter, Helene, were returning home from their trip to France to study European jewelry design and production.
When the duo were preparing to head back to their home in Providence, RI, they heard from friends about a new ship sailing to New York, the RMS Titanic. Ostby purchased two first class tickets for he and his daughter.
Late in the night on April 14, the Titanic struck and iceberg and began to sink. Ostby and Helene made it to the deck of the ship before Ostby decided to return to his room to grab a jacket to protect him from the cold air. That was the last time he was seen alive.
Helene boarded a lifeboat and made it to safety, while her father unfortunately perished with the ship.
After Helene had time to process the terrible tragedy, she returned to Rhode Island and joined her brother and his daughter to become joint owners in Ostby & Barton Co. and they continued producing beautiful jewelry into the 1950s.
While there are a number of later-period Ostby & Barton pieces on the market today, this piece is a little rarer and more special than most.
This exquisite ring is handcrafted in 10k yellow gold and set with a dazzling sky blue topaz, but what makes it special is that it was designed and made by Engelhart Ostby himself!
Stamped inside the band next to the OB maker's mark is Mr. Ostby's Maltese cross stamp, which he used on his personal pieces.
These Maltese cross pieces are very rare and most are held in private collections. This is a wonderful opportunity to own a true piece of jewelry history!
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