This antique Classical Revival seal has been set
in a beautiful modern 18 karat gold ring.
The art of glyptics, or carving images on colored
precious stones, is probably one of the oldest
known to humanity. Intaglios, gems with an
incised design, were made as early as the fourth
and third millennia B.C. in Mesopotamia and the
Aegean Islands. They exhibit a virtuosity of
execution that suggests an old and stable
tradition rooted in the earliest centuries. The
tools required for carving gems were simple: a
wheel with a belt-drive and a set of drills.
Abrasives were necessary since the minerals
used were too hard for a metal edge. A special
difficulty of engraving intaglios, aside from their
miniature size, was that the master had to work
with a mirror-image in mind.
The creation of gems was a great exploit, done
for a love of the beautiful. The hardness of the
minerals made them truly everlasting. Today they
remain as fresh as ever, unaffected by the flow of
centuries. The ancient masters of glyptics used a
wide range of themes, which reflected literally
every aspect of the spiritual and material culture
of the ancient world: politics, religion, literature,
theater, mythology and everyday life. In some
cases miniature gems are the only source of
information on the life of the ancient world. Most
valuable among these are reproductions of lost
masterpieces of Greek painting and plastic art.
This exquisite intaglio is most probably a
reproduction of a Classical Greek intaglio.
Ancient glyptics reached full bloom in the
classical period. Gems of this time, with their
profoundly humanistic approach, their precise
outlines, the freedom and perfection of the
composition and splendid quality of the stones,
are true masterpieces. The flowing outline of the
oval confines the space wherein a deity is
engraved. We cannot help admiring the fine, thin
lines of the design, created as though with only
the lightest touches of the tool. It is a true
masterpiece that has captured the timeless
essence of perfection and beauty.