Exceptional Late Roman Gold Ring with Garnets and Sapphires

GBP 11,700.00

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Object Description

An extremely fine and rare example of a Late Ancient Roman solid gold ring, featuring a round shape, delicately carved for the reception of six cabochon deep red garnets and two blue sapphires. The ring’s band has been modelled in the shape of elongated ovals, alternated with separation pellets, all worked from a single piece of high karat gold, around 22-23 karats. A wonderful example of Ancient Roman goldsmith art, surely belonged to a member of the Roman aristocracy or the imperial court. UK ring size Q. Weight: 4.7 g.

As in many ancient societies, jewellery was an important social marker used to demonstrate wealth. As a result of the expansion of the Roman Empire, Roman jewellery became more and more elaborate in its designs and materials used, such as precious and semi-precious gemstones. Roman jewellery often reflected the culture the Romans came into contact with, and can be viewed as a testament to the prosperity and power of the Roman Empire. The most popular type of Roman jewellery were rings, as Romans of Imperial Times enjoyed to wear big rings, extravagantly decorated with cameos or engraved precious stones. The custom of wearing rings was probably introduced into Rome by the Sabines, who are described in the early legends as wearing gold rings with precious stones. From the Roman Republic onwards it became customary for all the senators, chief magistrates, and at last for the equites also, to wear gold rings, known in Latin as annulus aureus, as a way to distinct themselves from the mass of the people. If initially the Romans only wore one ring, the nuptial fede , on the fourth finger on the left hand, very soon the custom of wearing rings on all the fingers of both hands started spreading. This was true with the exception of the middle finger, called impudicus or infamis, which was often used for an offensive gesture, and therefore left bare, without any rings. Both men and women would have worn multiple rings on each finger, competing in vanity for the one having the bigger or heavier ring. Rings composed of joined or carved gold cells set with coloured gems usually date from the late 4th century AD onwards and are an absolute rare find, with few examples on display at the Metropolitan Museum of New York and British Museum in London.

Date: Late Roman, 4th-5th Century AD

Object History

Provenance: Property of a London gentleman; formerly acquired before 1970; the rings is accompanied by a copy of a four page report from Striptwist Ltd, a London-based company run by precious metal specialist Dr Jack Ogden, reference number 191014. The ring will also come with a INTERPOL database search.

Object Literature

The Metropolitan Museum, item L.2015.72.38.
The British Museum, item 1917, 0501.858.

Object Condition

Condition: Extremely fine and rare piece. One of the two sapphires is modern. The ring is suitable for modern wear with care.

Object Details

  • material
  • dimensions
    W:1.9 x centimeters

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)208 364 4565
+44 (0)7833231322

Dealer Location

The Gallery
Trent Park Equestrian Centre
Eastpole Farm House, Bramley Road
Oakwood, N14 4UW, United Kingdom

St James's Ancient Art
10 Charles II Street, Ground Floor
St James

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