Hellenistic Ring with Garnet Intaglio
Gold ring with flat, almost “u”-shaped hoop made of gold sheet metal. The capital-like shoulders and ends – originally hinged and now soldered – support a hexagonal, multitiered, and stepped bezel. Set on top is a high convex garnet intaglio with an engraved image of the crown of the Egyptian goddess Isis: cow horn, sun disk, and sheath dress. The ring shows signs of age and is in good, wearable condition.
The intaglio shows the crown of the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis who was revered as the mother-goddess, life giver, and the mother of all pharaohs. It is likely that the ring was originally set with a cabochon gemstone that was later replaced by this intaglio, as it appears to be slightly large for the setting. It may have been worn in the hope that the symbol of Isis, the goddess of magic, fertility, and motherhood, would protect the wearer.
The ring is Hellenistic and dates to the 2nd-1st century BCE. A similar ring with an amethyst cabochon set within a hoop of the same design is the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Cologne (Chadour/Joppien 1985, vol. 2, no. 37, with reference to a ring found in a tomb in Pelinna, Thessaly, Greece; formerly Wilhelm Clemens Collection). Another ring with the same bezel design and a more ornate hoop is found in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Landesmuseum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. 1, no. 111, with references of further parallels in museum collections). The designs vary as some have cabochon gemstones along the hoop while others are plain gold, like here. Some have hinges between the hoop and the bezel (Hindman/Miller 2015, no. 10, with further literature).
For the motif of the goddess Isis on the intaglio see examples from Pompeii which date to the late 3rd-2nd century BCE and are now in the Museo Archeologico, Naples (Pannuti 1983, nos. 329-331) and of the 2nd-early 1st century set in a medieval ring in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection in the Landesmuseum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. 1, no. 569).