A Hellenistic Gold & Garnet Ring, ca. 2nd - 1st century BCE


Perhaps most remarkable is the bright red heart-shaped garnet set in the granulated gold mount. This garnet form is well known in late Hellenistic jewellery and the overall shape is probably that of a vine or ivy leaf - a fertility symbol. It is the same form and colour as a modern 'Valentine' heart, although the latter is always supposed to be a far more recent invention.  This bezel has been converted to a ring that has an 18K gold shank.   

Background: Throughout history, garnets have held a place in ritual symbolism. It is said that garnet was one of the twelve stones in Aaron's breastplate, representing the tribe of Judah, and that King Solomon wore garnet adornments when he went into battle. Noah chose a garnet to hang in the Ark, and it illuminated his way through the floods. It was perhaps this Biblical reference that made garnet the stone worn by travelers and soldiers to promise them a safe return home. But even before Biblical times, garnets were worn and treasured. Garnet necklaces have been found in graves in Czechoslovakia dating back to the Bronze Age. Garnet stones have been buried with warriors and nobles in Ancient Egypt (3100 B.C.), Sumeria (2100 B.C.) and Sweden (2000 B.C.). Plentiful throughout the world, and easily found just beneath the earth's crust, garnets were worn as jewelry among the Aztec and Mayans, Native Americans, aboriginal Australians and Asians. Garnets are also believed to have the power to staunch blood, to offer protection and healing from poisons and to purify the liver. Since ancient times, people have believed that garnets can help spark mental acuity and clarity, lighten the mood and bring peace and solace to the grieving. Over the years, garnets have acquired the meaning of fidelity, loyalty and love.

Condition:  Modern shank of 18K gold, in very good condition overall. 

Dimensions:  US ring size 7

Provenance: Private collection of Vincent Funiciello, Brooklyn, NY., the collection assembled between 1930s - 70s.

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