Beauty from Aquileia

Ancient Roman carnelian gem of the 1st/2nd century A.D. in a modern gold ring

A beautiful profile, facing right, is cut into an orange-red carnelian. The rich hair is laid into an elaborate coiffure, a thick plait frames the sides of the head, curls flow down the ears and ribbons flutter at the back of the neck. The lady's gaze is calm yet energetic: obviously she is observing what is happening in her surroundings. The ring here presents this depiction, as classic as it is beautiful, in an intaglio of carnelian. The ancient signet stone was cut shortly after the turn of time. The depiction and detailing, the form of reproduction and the comparison with other surviving intaglios allow us to date this piece to the 1st to 2nd century AD, i.e. to the Roman imperial period. In this period intaglios like the one we have here were created for a wide variety of occasions. People had portraits of themselves or patron saints carved in stone to give to friends and relatives. Scenes from mythology and representations of the gods served as protective amulets. But intaglios were also created as precious gifts by emperors to honour soldiers, civil servants or deserving citizens for loyal service. The carnelian seal stone presented here may have been created as such a gift from a wealthy Roman citizen. Here the material gives an additional clue to the place of origin. Because carnelian gems were produced in particularly large numbers in Aquileia at this time, our fable stone may also have come from here. Cf. especially Erika Zwierlein-Diehl: Antike Gemmen und ihr Nachleben, Berlin/New York 2007, p. 136, p. 143, p. 144 and others. The antique Roman carnelian originally came to us with its setting as part of a bracelet of the years around 1800 from a Cologne collection. The simple ring band of high-carat gold with the two arches to the right and left of the stone setting was created in our workshop according to models of the same period. Thus the gem can now be worn again safely and with pleasure as a ring.

One of the most beautiful and exciting fields in the field of jewellery is the collecting of antique intaglios and cameos. These portraits, cut in hard stone, recessed or raised, offer such a wealth of motifs that a whole world of objects reveals itself to every interest. There are cameos with portraits of famous people and heroes, representations of deities and mythical events, memories of personal experiences and narrative scenes from everyday life. As gems were widespread as jewellery in antiquity and every citizen probably wore (and gave as a gift) such stones, a relatively large number of original pieces have been preserved outside museums. We are always particularly pleased to be able to offer such gems.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.