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121. ROMAN BRONZE RING WITH NICOLO INTAGLIO

An attractive Roman bronze ring set with its original nicolo intaglio. The gem is cut with an image of a standing figure (it is difficult to ascertain which god or genius it represents) used as a private signature. C. 2nd - 3rd Century AD.

During the first and second centuries AD, the typical Roman ring consisted of a thick hoop that tapered directly into a slightly wider bezel. A gemstone was often embedded within the bezel with the top of the gem rising slightly above the surrounding ring material. Such rings are referred to Henig II and III/Guiraud 2 in formal academic circles. In general Roman rings became more elaborate in the third and fourth centuries AD.

Gold and silver rings were predominately for the wealthy elite and their fingers were often festooned with rings bearing precious gemstones. Everyday Romans wore bronze and iron rings. Seal rings were worn not just for their aesthetic appeal, but served an important practical purpose to seal documents. Every wealthy Roman had his seal as part of his ring. These rings were engraved or set with precious stones bearing the owner's emblem. Other rings had more practical functions, including keys for strongboxes.

Wealthy Romans often wore rings below the knuckle. This might seem odd to us today, but it served to accentuate their display, especially when eating and gesturing at social gatherings.

A common misnomer is when Roman rings are described as 'child's rings' on account of their size. This is often incorrect, as these smaller rings would have fitted nicely below the knuckle, especially on female hands.

Nicolo intaglios were popular gemstones in Roman Britain.


Condition: Fine.

Dimensions: Dia. 2cm (external) 1.8cm (internal) UK size Q US 8 - 8.5 EU 57.5

Provenance: Ex. private collection, UK.

£120.00

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