An Ancient Roman Gold and Carnelian Signet Ring

Dating back to the 1st-3rd Century BC

07/12/2022     Latest News, Jewellery & Gems



It’s not too often we have the excitement of offering such an historic piece of jewellery at auction! Lot 422 in our December 2022 auction is an ancient Roman gold and carnelian set finger ring. Preserved exceptionally for anywhere between one thousand to two thousand years it remains in very good condition. The band is intact, with repairs visible to the lower half where it has also gone out of shape. It is set with a carved carnelian intaglio which depicts a classical figure. The carving is of good quality, and we can see the effort made by the craftsman to achieve the smallest of detail, as seen around the hair of the classical figure.


Dating back to the 1st-3rd Century BC, these types of intaglio rings were owned by persons of high status, businessmen or political leaders with enormous wealth and power. They were often used as signet rings- meaning the carnelian carving was stamped down on to a hot piece of wax and the impression served as a signature.
The ring is hollow and broad. The 23-carat gold has a hammered look, which is likely to be a result of the millennia of wear it has endured. Pieces such as this rarely survive to modern day, and even rarer do they appear at an auction house!

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