Roman intaglio ring makes 450 times estimate

A Roman gold intaglio ring, possibly featuring the head of the Emperor Augustus, found among a group of jewellery sold at auction recently for 450 times its original estimate.

Originally estimated at £150–£200, the garnet intaglio ring went on to sell for a hammer of £90,000 at Fellows auctioneers in Birmingham. The garnet intaglio was described by the auction house as possibly depicting Augustus. Augustus Caesar was an integral figure in the history of the Roman empire. He was the First Emperor of the Roman Empire, rulingfrom 27BC until 14AD. After securing victory against Mark Anthony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31BC, he ended a bitter 13-year civil war. His reign is often associated with imperial peace, or pax Romana.

Specialist jewellery auctioneers, Fellows, sold the ring as the penultimate lot in their bi-monthly Fine Jewellery auction.The auctioneers said that there was fierce bidding for the lot, with people participating from all over the world using online bidding platforms. A telephone bidder ultimately succeeding in securing the lot after heated bidding which lasted for over 17 minutes.

Set in gold, the ring featured an intricate intaglioof a man’s head in profile. Intaglio is the term used to describe the technique of carving into a gem or metal to leave a hollow impression, often used for sealing documents.

The Fine Jewellery auction at Fellows featured 10 other intaglio pieces, one of which was dated back to 1AD. All 11 pieces sold extremely well, surpassing the auctioneer’s expectations, a carnelian fob achieved £12,870.

Business Development Manager, Nicola Whittaker said,“I am delighted by the result from our Fine Jewellery auction. Not only did we achieve an amazing price for our vendor, we had the opportunity to handle an extremely interesting piece of jewellery history. It is rare to see such an intricately carved piece in such fine condition and it was a privilege to offer the ring for sale in our auction”.Fellows is currently inviting consignments for their next Fine Jewellery auction in June