King of the past

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

Clothes make the man, this was not only the case with the Captain of Köpenick. Even in ancient times, clothes, hairstyles and jewellery defined social status and were reserved for clearly defined social groups under severe penalties. Sometimes, from today's perspective, it was very small details that made a big difference. This ring with an elaborately cut carnelian shows a portrait of a man in profile to the left. The rich, curly hair is tamed with a band whose free ends seem to blow in the wind behind the head. Such a headband was called taenia or diadema by the ancient Romans and was the distinguishing mark of kings. Both the ancient Roman kings of prehistoric times were distinguished and made recognizable with this headband in later centuries, and kings of other peoples, such as the Phoenicians or Egyptians. The ancient seal 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. 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 cut in stone to give to friends and relatives, while scenes from mythology and depictions 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, perhaps as a reminder of one's own history . Here the material gives an additional hint also to the place of the origin. For carnelian gems were produced in particularly large numbers in Aquileia at this time; our fable stone may also have come from here. Cf. Erika Zwierlein-Diehl: Antike Gemmen und ihr Nachleben, Berlin/New York 2007, p. 136, p. 143, p. 144 and others. This ring presents the royal intaglio in a gold frame. It is noticeable that the stone has suffered a chip, a flaw, probably in the earliest times: A piece of the carnelian is missing from the upper edge, which was replaced by gold. The antique Roman carnelian with its setting originally came to us as part of a bracelet from the years around 1800 from a Cologne collection. The retouching in gold therefore dates back some 200 years. The simple ring band of high-carat gold with the two arches to the right and left of the stone setting, on the other hand, was created in our workshop according to models from the same period. This means that the gem can now once again be worn 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.