This Classical Revival seal has been set in a beautiful 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 and continued to flourish until the end of the Roman Empire. 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 lion 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.