Dating to c.600 AD for the agate seal and c.1870 for the custom-made high-karat gold mounting, this ring is a jewel which brings together over 1600 years of jewelry history!
The Sasanian Empire (also known as Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire) was the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam, ruled by and named after the Sasanian dynasty from 224 to 651. The Sasanian Empire was recognized as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighboring arch rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years, and were just as skilled as the late Romans in glyptic and lapidary work. This agate seal is an artifact of this empire, and is very typical of the small seals which were used for both decorative and administrative purposes.
The seal measures 16 mm x 12 mm across the bezel, and measures 13 mm tall. It is carved from brown and white banded onyx, and is engraved with the image of a reclining ibex facing right. The ibex was a popular motif, and was considered a protective animal by the ancient Persians. Other Sasanian seals I have handled are identically polished and drilled through the center; these seals were threaded through think gold wire as rings or pendants, and used much in the way we would use a signet today.
This example was mounted c.1870, likely by whomever picked this then-1400-year-old seal on his or her Grand Tour of the Middle East. The mounting is 100% hand-made, and is wrought in 14k yellow gold with just a touch of rose in the alloy. The jeweler who made this mounting created a hand-cut gold cup which covers the drill holes, and set the seal within. The shank is a plain gold hoop measuring 3 mm wide. The result is a one-of-a-kind ring which looks surprisingly modern considering its 145-year history!
Simply a fascinating example of ancient-Sasania-meets-Victorian America, this wonderful ring is suitable for wear by a lady or a gentleman. It was clearly made for a lady, as it is a size 5 3/4, but the plainness of the rear of the shank would allow for easy enlargement by a good bench jeweler for little cost. Weighing in at 6.68 grams, this is an unique ring which will be sure to be admired and inquired after; I have never seen one quite like it in my 25+ years as a dealer, collector and scholar of historic jewelry!
If you love the history of ancient Persia or the best in Victorian Grand Tour jewelry, this highly-wearable ring belongs on your hand and in your collection! It would also make a stellar holiday gift for anyone fond of wearable ancient seals, and will be shipped in a gift box. As with all of my jewelry pre-dating 1700, this ring will come with a COA and valuation for your insurance purposes at no extra charge. Do not miss this historic ring; up to 60-day layaway is available, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
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