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. Both men and women would have worn multiple rings on each finger, competing in vanity for the one having the bigger or heavier ring. The extremely sophisticated technique of engraving of gemstones was one of the most luxurious art forms in the Ancient World. Furthermore, in Ancient Roman culture gemstones were amongst the most expensive and lavish objects and were prized above all other possessions. This fine intaglio is carved from carnelian; the name carnelian derives from the Latin word carneus, which means fleshy, a reference to the colour of the semi-precious stone. Iconographies on intaglios were driven from literature, mythology or religion. In this case the intaglio holds the depiction of the goddess Fortuna, portrayed bearing a cornucopia, symbol of abundance, and a rudder, symbol of her control over human destinies. She also appears wearing a mural crown: Fortuna was not only the personification of good fortune and chance, but was also worshipped as the protector of cities, hence the mural-crown she is shown wearing, which symbolises the city the goddess is protecting.
To discover more about Intaglios, please visit our relevant blog post: Intaglios: Miniature Masterpieces.