Ring with intaglio depicting Apollo

Hoop ring with agate intaglio showing the likeness of a young man. This portrayal conveys a certain sense of movement due to the inclination of the neck, the way the head is turning to the right and the free-flowing hair held with a diadem. There is no clear identifying iconography, but we could be dealing with the depiction of the face of Apollo.

The round face and the large grooves around the eyes indicate that the piece may be of Eastern production.

Since antiquity the world of jewellery has had a close relationship to a determined status. Both men and women enjoyed being surrounded by luxury and enjoyed the use of precious stones and metals. However, while men introduced these into their life in general, for example, in the decoration of their houses, women were the only ones to wear adornments. The only exception in the case of men was that they did wear rings.

Roman jewellery reached heights of invention never seen before and never surpassed until the Renaissance. Imperial Rome was the world centre for jewellery and great quantities of precious stones and materials were imported for use in this field.

Initially the style of the pieces was typically Etruscan or Greek, but soon a style of its own developed in Rome. Pieces were ornate and sumptuous with mountings of precious stones, opus interassile metalwork and mosaics of small stones set on gold and silver. Another specialty of Roman craftsmanship was the cutting of gems, the highly-esteemed engraving and sculpting, above all on cameos of agate and onyx, stones with diverse layers of colours that, once the working on the piece was finished, produced an effect of depth and polychromy. Mostly cameos were dedicated to portraiture.

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