An enigmatic eighteen karat gold ring from the French Empire period, dating to approximately 1798 to about 1815. A plain band terminates in shoulders decorated with a caduceus on each side, the center set with a facetted garnet set in a highly decorated bezel with a closed back.
The caduceus is the also known as the Rod of Hermes (Mercury) and is frequently confused with the rod of Asclepius as the symbol of medical doctors, but acquired that attribution in the 7th century A.D. The original caduceus, symbolized by two snakes intertwined around a staff terminating in a pair of wings and, in much earlier iterations, the winged helmet of Hermes/Mercury, symbolizes peace and heraldry, as well as commerce. Hermes was the messenger of the gods in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, and guided souls to the underworld after death. He was considered the protective god of heralds and merchants, orators and ambassadors, among many others. The caduceus is also symbolically significant in the Rosicrucian order, symbolizing the Path of Initiation. Given its very large size, this was most likely a man’s, possibly a merchant’s, ring. Most likely it had symbolic meaning to wearer, and meant to serve as a talisman or bearer of good fortune.
The stone is a vibrant ruby red, with a large, flat table, gently facetted around the edges. As it is set in a foiled, closed-back setting we can’t determine its carat weight. It is marked with French warranty marks for 18k gold items made between 1798 and 1819.
Size 9 ½ US, the ring can be sized
Gross weight 4.1 grams The garnet measure 9.5mm x 7mm