Roman Egyptian Gold & Emerald Finger Ring (Cleopatra's Mines)
This is a rare ancient Roman gold and emerald finger ring, dating to the Graeco-Roman period (approximately 50 BC to 395 AD). The ring has an elaborately constructed bezel, designed to display a natural emerald set in such a way as to spin around on the axis, giving movement when worn. The emerald is simply sliced from a crystal, without any shaping or polishing. It contains natural inclusions within the gem. Such emeralds were highly prized during the Roman period, acquired from the famous Egyptian emerald mines of Queen Cleopatra.
Archaeological evidence suggests that these Egyptian mines may have been worked intermittently as early as 500 BC, although the main period of mining appears to have begun under the Romans about 30 BC. Early Roman writers often referred to this area as “Mons Smaragdus” (Emerald Mountain). Egypt was the major source of emeralds until they were discovered in greater abundance and better quality in the 1520s in the New World in present-day Colombia.
OBJECT: Finger Ring
DATE: c. 1st - 4th century A.D.
MATERIAL: Gold & Emerald
RING SIZE: 7 (US) O (UK)
SIZE: 28.11mm x 19.40mm x 4.54mm (bezel 10.27mm x 7.66mm x 9.68mm)
WEIGHT: 4.40 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. European Private Collection