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We will be closed Wednesday, June 19th in observance of Juneteenth
We will be closed Wednesday, June 19th in observance of Juneteenth

Renaissance Ring with Ancient Roman Mosaic Glass


Dating from c. 15th-16th century Europe, this gilt ring is set with ancient mosaic glass. The polychrome hexagonal glass fragment is bezel-set within a dentilled surround, its deep basket and gallery joining open arced shoulders, all ornamented by trefoil and foliate motifs in relief on an engraved field, with possible remnants of niello. With its beautiful patina and unusual materials, this remarkable ring, gently worn by many hands, combines the Renaissance jeweler’s art with reverence for the ancient world.


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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: R-20065
Country: Europe, possibly Northern Italy
Circa: 2nd-3rd century AD Roman glass, c. 15th-16th century mounting
Size:  6.75; this ring can be sized (please call the gallery for details)
Materials: Ancient Roman or Phoenician mosaic glass fragment; Gilt metal
Literature: For examples of niello work in Byzantine, Early Medieval, and Renaissance rings, see Finger Rings: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, by Gerard Taylor and Diana Scarsbrick, Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1978. 

Fragments of ancient Roman glass were reverently “up-cycled” into jewelry for centuries after the fall of the empire, even by those cultures that had contributed to its destruction. After the insularity of the Medieval period in Europe, Renaissance collectors rediscovered the achievements and arts of the Ancients, assembling series of imperial sculpture and other artifacts. Collectors displayed coveted sets of Greek and Roman coins as well as fragments of ancient marbles and technically advanced glass, to display how highly they prized the cultural continuity between the inspired arts of the European Renaissance and the sophisticated classical world. Niello work appears in jewelry from the Byzantine empire and areas within its sphere of artistic influence such as Northern Italy.