BYZANTINE GEMSTONE RING SET WITH AN AMETHYST
Byzantium, c. 500 AD
Gold and Amethyst
Weight 13.0 gr.; bezel 15.8 x 17.5 x 21.8 mm.; circumference 55.76 mm.; US size 7.5; UK size P
This exceptionally imposing gold ring is composed of a hollow hoop, rounded on the exterior and widening towards the shoulders and bezel. Set on top of the hoop, one over the other, are two octagonal stepped bases, supporting a calyx-like setting for a large polished amethyst (slightly damaged on one side near the base) in high cabochon form. Not only is the setting of this magnificent ring bold, the bases protruding high on the hand, but the stone itself adds additional height and luster. In antiquity, amethysts of the deepest purple color, like this one, were sourced from India, Jordan, and Egypt. The massive size, considerable weight, and daring construction of the ring suggest that the wearer would have enjoyed an important position in society.