Hellenistic Ring with Amphora
This delicate openwork hoop is composed of gold wires with square section. These form the hoop's outer framework and inner pattern with symmetrical C-scrolls and globules. Vertical and horizontal beaded wires add to the structure. A hinge joins the hoop and amphora-shaped bezel. The double-handled amphora is constructed from gold sheet metal shaped with a repoussé technique and outlined by beaded wires; in the center is an oval collet-set hessonite garnet cabochon. Green glass vine leaves, pearls as grapes, and gold ivy leaves envelop the handles. Two projecting colletset hessonite garnets attached by tabs form both base and lid of the amphora. The bezel of this ring may have been intended as an earring or pendant, only to be adapted to be worn as a ring; a comparable hoop construction is applied to a Roman ring in the British Museum, London.
Here a Hellenistic ring takes the form of a wine vessel, an amphora, and its imagery relates indirectly to its function. With its vines and grapes, including ivy leaves hanging over the sides, this ring refers to Dionysus, the god of wine, excess, and merriment. Dionysiac imagery was often associated with fertility. Perhaps the wearer of the ring wished to bear children, or possibly the ring functioned simply as an alluring jewel to attract the opposite sex.
Private collection, London, from late 1970s to 1991; private collection, 1991-2007.