Early Byzantine gold marriage ring. The central square plaque carved to depict two facing busts wearing crowns, a cross and orb in between, with the wording 'ZVΓOC AHNOCIOC' translated from Greek as 'propitious marriage' with split scrolling shoulders tapering to a solid D-shaped shank. Tested yellow gold, approximately 12g in weight, circa 4th century AD.
This is an extremely rare example of one of the earliest types of nuptial rings and is in very fine condition.
During the Byzantine era, Christianity came to prominence with three rings becoming an integral part of the nuptial proceedings- one engagement ring for the woman and two wedding rings, one for each party as is the modern tradition. The overt Christian iconography of this ring is typical for the period, reflecting the shift from marriage being a secular agreement to one which was ordained by God. See Ross, M.C. 'Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Medieval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection', Volume 2, items 50, 51 and 52 for further examples of Byzantine rings showing Christian nuptial symbology.