Apollo Kitharoidos

Modern signet ring with Roman intaglio of Apollo Kitharoidos 2nd century AD/2020

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. Since gems were widespread as jewellery in antiquity and probably every citizen wore such stones (and also gave them as gifts), a relatively large number of original pieces have survived outside museums. We are always pleased to be able to offer such original Roman gems, especially when the pieces are of museum quality, as is the case with this intaglio. Cut in red carnelian we see a seated male figure in heroic nudity with a cithara in his arms. Through this attribute we can identify the god Apollo, here in the type of an "Apollo Kitharoidos". The depiction and detailing, the form of rendering and the comparison with other surviving intaglios with portraits of Apollo Kitharoidos allow us to date this cameo to the 2nd century AD. Cameos in carnelian were produced in large numbers at this time in Aquileia, among other places, and our stone may also have come from here. The intaglio comes from an extensive collection of antique cameos, which were set into a bracelet from the years around 1800 when we acquired them in Cologne. However, since the gems were originally Roman ring stones, we re-set the stone cuts to make them wearable as rings again. So our blacksmith built a solid band ring for the ancient gem, using high karat gold. The ring can be worn by both men and women.

To possess antique cameos and gems was the claim of almost all great collections for centuries: We find spectacular pieces as well in the Green Vault in Dresden, in the treasury of Rudolf II, up to the great private collections like that of Baron Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of antique seal stones and gems, which represent the antique imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety. Thus they were not least an expression of a humanistic education. Of particular importance for the transmission of stone and shell carvings north of the Alps have always been travellers to Italy, who brought home impressions and carved stones as well as engraved shells from their educational journeys in order to enjoy the stories that the shells could tell. The art of gem cutting has survived to this day in Italy, especially in the Bay of Naples, where it has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, the Scuola dei Cammei in Torre del Greco is the only professional training centre in the world for gem-cutters, although unfortunately the mythological theme has almost been lost as a subject.

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.