Rings from the ancient world are exceedingly scarce, greatly prized and highly sought after. Berganza holds an extensive collection of original Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Celtic rings, each ring showcasing the style and artistry of the ancient craftsman of the period.
Rings would have been made usually from bronze, silver or yellow gold and display fine metalworking skills such as precision engraving, granulation and wirework. Considering the astonishing age of these pieces and their historical significance, they are still immensely wearable today and are frequently chosen as a unique engagement ring or wedding ring- guaranteed to be unlike any other.
One can only speculate about the people who originally wore these rings, we can be sure however that they would have been reserved for the elite of society as only these people would have been able to afford such luxury.
Rings were often worn as talismans, protecting the wearer from harm or using symbolic motifs to ensure prosperity in life. The design of these rings show off motifs such as the ‘reef knot’ and ‘fede’ design- both used as betrothal or marriage rings, animals such as snakes would have represented wisdom and love, and depictions of the ancient gods were frequently illustrated- each known for their particular ability to provide assistance and security to the individual.
The art of engraving gemstones (or glyptography) was one of the foremost arts of antiquity, with a tradition that continues through history. Rings set with intaglios may also have been used as seals and had the duality of being decorative as well as functional.
Ancient Roman dolphin intaglio ring, circa 2nd-3rd century AD.
Ancient Roman dolphin intaglio ring. Set horizontally with an oval glass intaglio depicting a dolphin, in a closed back Roman set setting, to a smoothly conforming yellow gold frame which leads though to a solid tapering D-shape shank. Tested yellow gold, approximately 6g in weight, circa 2nd-3rd century AD.
Dolphins were a favourite motif in the ancient world. They were sacred to the gods Venus and Apollo, and were frequently depicted with Cupid, the god of love, riding its back.
See Ruseva-Slokoska, L., 'Roman Jewellery', item 197 for a ring of similar period and style.