This is an ancient Roman silver finger ring, dating to the 2nd - 3rd century AD. This has a raised bezel set with a repousee silver sheet. This bezel is decorated with a pair of clasped hands, known as a dextrarum iunctio.
The ancient Romans did not use engagement rings or wedding rings in exactly the same way as we do today. However, we know that in some cases, prior to the wedding ceremony, the sponsus offered his or her spouse (sponsa) a ring, the annulus pronubus. In archaeological research, it is difficult to recognize when and with what purpose a jewel was given - and that is true of wedding and engagement rings as well. However, there are a small group of rings that are well identified as annuli pronubi. It depicts the moment of joining the two right hands of husband and wife, a moment at the ceremony of the Roman marriage called dextrarum iunctio. The image on this ring of a pair of clasped hands depicts such a scene, thus most likely the original intent, worn as a wedding ring.
The ring has survived in good condition with consistent wear from a long and happy life (by the original owner), interestingly the bezel has almost formed a heart-shaped rim, again caused from being worn over an extended period of time. It is a rare ancient wedding ring, intact but as excavated!
OBJECT: Wedding Ring
DATE: c. 2nd - 3rd century AD
RING SIZE: 6 1/2 (US) N (UK)
SIZE: 19mm x 22mm x 4mm (bezel 13mm x 11mm x 2mm)
WEIGHT: 2.59 grams
PROVENANCE: Formerly in a private collection, London,
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