A Seljuk turquoise-set gold Bangle
Persia, 12th Century
The ridged, triangular section box-construction shank terminating in a double lion-head clasp and two set oval turquoises, the pyramidic bezel set with a glass rectangle and flanked by two set circular turquoises, a pin fitting at the base of the bezel, the shanks decorated with raised quatrefoils flanked by inscription-filled cartouches, all edges with granular decoration.
Inscriptions: repeat of al-‘izz al-da’im wa al-iqbal wa al-dawlat wa …., ‘Perpetual Glory and Prosperity and Wealth and …’
For a similar bangle in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, see M. Jenkins and M. Keene, Islamic Jewellery, New York, 1982, no. 25; for a pair of bangles, see Bonhams, Islamic and Indian Art, 24th April 2002, lot 325; and for a pair of bangles made for a child, see Christie’s, Islamic Art and Indian Miniatures, 28th April 1998, lot 363).
The Grand Camée de France (Great cameo of France), the largest cameo sculpture to survive from the ancient world, contains 24 engraved figures arrayed in three registers. The general meaning and the political goals of this commissioned work are clear: its aim is to assert the dynastic continuity and legitimacy of the Julio-Claudian emperors of the Roman Empire (the first five emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero). The dead are placed in the upper part, while the middle register represents the world of the living. In the lowest register are Parthian and Germanic captives. Emperor Augustus can be recognized in the upper register, with his head veiled and encircled by a radiant crown; he is surrounded by Germanicus, mounted on a winged horse, and the son of the Emperor Tiberius, Drusus Julius Caesar. The floating figure with Eastern-style dress, carrying a globe in his hands, could be Aeneas. The center of the gem is reserved for Tiberius, sitting on his throne with his mother Livia. He presides over a solemn ceremony that is believed to be the appointment of Nero (standing armed before him) as Prince of Youth in 23 AD. This five-layered sardonyx cameo was made at around that date.
Around 23 CE
Title in Original Language
Grand camée de France
Place of origin:
Rome, Italy (made)
500-300 BC (made) — scarabs
before 1925 (made) — bracelet
Castellani (bracelet, maker)
Materials and Techniques:
Gold decorated with applied wirework and granulation, mounted with four carnelian scarabs
M.35-2001 (V&A Museum, London)
This bracelet may have been in the Castellani firm’s stock for a number of years as the business was winding down in the 20th century.
Ancient beads, scarabs and engraved gemstones from excavations were an essential element of jewellery made in the archaeological style. Mounted in gold, they were densely set in necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings or rings.
Castellani, the leading jewellers in Rome, acquired ancient stones in great quantities from many sources. The scarcity of scarabs caused Augusto Castellani to comment in 1862 that their high price ‘impelled the moderns to counterfeit them. And they so perfected this trade that the most experienced eye can barely discover the deception’.
Place of origin:
France (probably, made)
England, Great Britain (possibly, made)
ca. 1400 (made)
Materials and Techniques:
86-1899 (V&A Museum, London)
This heart-shaped brooch with its romantic inscription was given as a token of love. It would have been used to fasten a tunic, gown or cloak. Gold was the most costly of metals, generally used only by royalty and the nobility. It is inscribed and would have formerly been enamelled on the reverse in French, in black letter script, ‘Ourselves and all things at your whim’ (‘Nostre et tout ditz a vostre desier’). The design on the front of the brooch, possibly stylised leaves and flowers or feathers, would also have been colourfully enamelled.
Ring brooches often fastened garments with a slit at the neck. Both men and women used them. They first pulled the fabric through the ring. They then pushed the pin horizontally through the fabric. When they pulled the fabric back through the ring, it held the pin in place.
As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
An archaeological investigation into Byzantine-era refuse pits revealed the truth behind this adage after researchers discovered an astonishing number of artifacts buried in pits on the Israeli central coast, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The largest of the pits measures close to 30 meters (about 98 feet) across and was filled with the animal bone fragments and pottery shards one might expect in an ancient garbage pit. However, among the trash was also a mystifying amount of gold coins and jewelry.
“In the midst of the many sherds that were discovered in the big refuse pit was a large amount of usable artifacts, whose presence in the pit raises questions,” professor Oren Tal of Tel Aviv University said in a statement. “Among other things, more than four hundred coins were found which are mostly Byzantine, including one gold coin, as well as two hundred whole and intact Samaritan lamps (among them lamps that were never used), rings and gold jewelry.”
The items have been preliminarily dated between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., according to the IAA. However the area where they were found, Apollonia National Park, is believed to have been inhabited for much longer. In fact, in 2004, the park was named a World Monuments Fund Watch site because of its historical importance.
Earring with Nike driving a two-horse chariot
Greek, Northern Greek, Late Classical or Early Hellenistic Period, about 350–325 B.C.
Height: 5cm (1 15/16in.) Weight: 15.8 gm (0.03 lb.)
Gold and enamel
Earring in form of Nike driving a two-horse chariot (biga). The figures are modeled in the round and form a pendant suspended from a disc in the shape of a honeysuckle palmette. Wearing a belted chiton (tunic), a full-length skirt, and several items of jewelry, Nike leans forward, her left hand pulling on the reins of the horses, whose front legs rear sharply. The features on the goddess’s face are crisp and her expression resolute, while the animals appear startled and tense. Raised as if in flight, Nike’s elaborate, feathery, and finely chased wings provide an elegant counterbalance to the dynamic composition.
The ornament is composed of more than a hundred individual elements soldered together. The bodies of the figures are crafted from gold sheet that is embellished with wirework details and small gold balls. The honeysuckle palmette is fashioned into curved petals and circular stamens outlined with fine twisted wires; remnants of enamel survive on several of the stamens. In the center of the leaf is a tear-shaped fruit encrusted with dense gold granulation. A hoop on the underside was probably attached to an ear wire, which is now missing.
Watch set in a single Colombian emerald crystal: c. 1600
Watch, set in single large Colombian emerald crystal of hexagonal form with hinged lid. The movement and dial plate are corroded and cannot be raised out of the setting. The dial plate is enamelled in translucent green and the circular gold suspension loop and button securing the movement at the base are set with small emeralds. The suspension loop is set in a white enamelled flower, c.1610. Part of the Cheapside Hoard. The main body of the case is cut from a single piece of emerald with a lid of facetted emerald. The catch for the lid consists of a gold pin set in the base which passes through a hole in a gold tube set in the lid. The watch has a gold dial overlaid with dark green enamel through which can be seen the engraved design of radiating lines.
Date: 1576 AD – 1600 AD
Pendant, 4th Century B.C.
Gold: molding, soldering, granulation, hammering
A MEROVINGIAN GLASS AND GARNET GOLD FINGER RING
circa 5th-6th century a.d.
The hoop round in section, with collared shoulders joined to the diamond-shaped bezel, which is divided into quadrants and set with alternating squares of blue and green glass, the corners of the bezel terminating in roundels set with cabochon garnets
Gold and garnet ring, circa 5th-7th centuries. This type of ring could be produced by a barbaric jeweller (Goth?) or by a Byzantine workshop for barbaric customers. (auto-translation)
A 13th/14th century ring. The hexagonal slice of amethyst in a closed-back gold setting, ring size approximately P½
Found in North Yorkshire, treasure number 2010T674. The Crown’s interest in this ring has been disclaimed.
The hinged choker of torque design decorated at the front with two facing lion head terminals, with ruby and emerald detail, mounted in gold, inner circumference 32.8 cm
Gold ring, the oval bezel set with a sapphire, with chased foliated shoulders, West Europe, 14th century
Signet ring of the “Black Prince”
Second third of 14th century
Found at Montpensier, Puy-de-Dôme, in 1866
Gold, formerly gilded, ruby
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design
Gift of Ostby and Barton, in memory of Englehardt Cornelius Ostby
Photography by Erik Gould
Late Victorian Egyptian Revival Gold Ring with Lapis Lazuli
14K Gold, Lapis Lazuli
Garnet and gold ring, Roman, 2nd-3rd century AD
The ring consists of three plates, each with a garnet, bezel-set.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Cabochon Ring found in Leeds, West Yorkshire — an unusually large, complete and spectacular gold ring with a lozenge-shaped bezel set with a garnet gem. Anglo-Saxon pieces of such high quality are extremely rare. It was made to be displayed as a sign of great wealth and status and is in near perfect condition.
The ribbed octagonal hoop terminating in a six-petalled calyx and oval plate containing a sapphire within an irregular setting. Greece, circa 1400
6th–7th century, Byzantine. Gold, sapphire, pearl. These elegant earrings are decorated with pearls, a favorite jewel of the Byzantines. Sapphires, then called hyakinthoi (hyacinths), became popular in Byzantine jewelry in the sixth century.
Anglo Saxon, 9th century
Slightly convex bossed disc brooch of sheet silver with inlaid gold and niello ornament. The zoomorphic decoration is deeply carved and pierced to give an open-work effect. Within the beaded rim, a zone of alternate disc and lozenge patterns contains the main decorative field, which consists of a central hollow-sided cruciform design with a boss at its centre and animal-head terminals, with a quatrefoil, the cusps of which terminate in identical animal heads: all the heads are (or were) set with blue glass eyes and are interconnected by a beaded circle. This in turn creates subsidiary fields each containing a puppy-like Trewhiddle-style beast. Four more bosses lie towards the perimeter, behind the animal-heads on the quatrefoils. Numerous gold panels are hammered into the decoration and considerable use is made of speckling and beaded framing. A suspension or keeper loop is attached to one edge of the brooch, at right angles to the direction of the pin catch, only stubs of which remain. The back is otherwise plain.