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This is an ancient Roman gold wedding ring, dating to the 3rd - 4th century A.D. The ring is set with a carnelian intaglio depicting a pair of clasped hands, known as a dextrarum iunctio. The band of the ring is made from beaded wire, the shoulders decorated with granulation work in the form of clusters of grapes or fruits.
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 engaement 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. This intaglio depicts such a scene, thus most likely the original intent, especially one set into such a nice gold band.
It is a wonderful example, it has survived in excellent condition, with no damages, scuffs or repairs. This ring can be used and worn again today.
OBJECT: Finger Ring
DATE: c. 3rd - 4th century AD
MATERIAL: Gold & Carnelian
RING SIZE: 8 3/4 (US) R 1/4 (UK)
SIZE: 22mm x 20mm x 1mm (intaglio 8mm x 6mm x 3mm)
WEIGHT: 1.7 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. European Private Collection