Gilded bronze ring

late 3rd century BCE
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General Description

Rings made from sheet gold or gold wire occur in Greek graves dating to the 10th century BCE, and there is consistant evidence that simple gold bands were worn as rings in the following centuries. As a result of Egyptian or Phoenician influence, more elaborate forms slowly became popular beginning in the 6th century BCE. The 3rd to 1st centuries BCE saw an abundance of rings and a large variety in shape and style.

This gilded ring has extended shoulders and a flat oval bezel. The large garnet intaglio is engraved with a representation of Aphrodite. The goddess is shown from the front, standing slightly turned to the right. Her left arm is raised and holds the end of a cloak, which drapes around her right leg. Her right arm rests on the shoulder of a slender, winged Eros, turned to the left. The goddess wears a necklace and bracelets.

Many Hellenistic rings are set with an engraved gem and are generally considered to be signet rings, although a purely decorative function cannot be excluded. Pieces like this gilt bronze right, with its elongated figures of the goddess Aphrodite and a youthful Eros, illustrate the manneristic style favored by gem engravers of the 3rd century BCE.

Adapted from

Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 66; 140.