Ancient Roman Solid Gold Ring with Nicolo Intaglio
An extremely fine example of an Ancient Roman solid-cast finger ring, featuring a broad, angular hoop with deeply carved scrolls to the shoulders, creating a pleasant laurel leaves motif, while framing the bezel. The oval bezel is set with a vesica banded chalcedony stone, of which the top bright blue layer has been finely carved with the depiction of a naturalistically rendered ant, which seems emerging from the dark blue layer underneath. The style of the engraving is known as nicolo, which refers to a type of intaglio carved in banded onyx or agate in such a way that the depiction, engraved on the pale top layer, reveals the dark colour underneath. UK ring size G. Weight: 13.08 g.
Date: Circa 1st-3rd Century AD Provenance: Property of a North London gentleman; formerly in a German private collection, Munich. Condition: Extremely fine, complete and intact. A wonderful example of Roman goldsmith art. The ring is suitable for modern wear with care.
The extremely sophisticated technique of engraving 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. Gemstones were often decorated with iconographies driven from literature, myths, theatre and everyday life. In this specific case, the intaglio represents an ant, which was one of the attributes of the Roman goddess Ceres, patron of the grain and fertility. Such ring might have been worn intended to bring prosperity to the wearer.