GOLD RING WITH A GLASS CAMEO OF A CROSS
Early Byzantine, c. 6th-7th century AD
Gold and glass
Circumference 55.76 mm.; weight 3.2 gr.; US size 7.5; UK size P
This ring has a flat gold hoop, the exterior of which is decorated with punched triangles. Soldered to the bezel is a conical gold container holding a glass cameo in imitation of nicolo and depicting a Greek cross in relief. Late antique and Byzantine cameos of gemstones are rare and their attribution is often controversial. Because the art of gem engraving virtually disappeared by the third or fourth century, the use of glass cameos flourished in Eastern and Western Empires. A skilled craftsman could cut down layers of glass so that the background color showed through, unrestricted by the natural veins occurring in gemstones like agate or sardonyx.