LATE ROMAN OR EARLY MEDIEVAL RING WITH GARNET
Italy? 6th-7th century
Weight 3.1 gr.; bezel 8.4 x 4.8 x 4.5 mm.; circumference: 55.76 mm.; US size 7.5; UK size P
Deep blood red garnets were sought after gemstones which had to be imported from as far away as India or Ceylon (today Sri Lanka). Garnets were first used for jewelry by the Ancient Egyptians and during that period they could source them from the Sinai region. In Greek jewelry garnets feature prominently and through Alexander the Great and his conquests a new trade route and source was found. They continued to be fashionable with the Romans, but it was during the Migration period in Europe after the decline of Rome that garnets experienced a revival. Not only were cabochons in use, but methods of splitting the stone into fine sheets created a new aesthetic. Late Roman ring forms, decorative filigree wires and globules, as well as similar metal techniques were adopted during the Migration period as new rulers employed indigenous goldsmiths who followed the traditions of the Roman Empire.
The narrow hoop is made of a spiral-beaded gold wire. The ends hold the drop-shaped bezel with deep collet setting and garnet cabochon. Two globules on either side of the bezel have both a decorative and supportive function. The ring is good condition.