Selection of Rings
Greek and Roman, 3rd century BCE–4th century CE
Indiana University Art Museum, Burton Y. Berry Collection:

Bronze Ring with Gold Bezel and Inset Garnet, 76.89.27
Glass Ring, 63.161.22e
Gold Beaded Ring with Inset Garnet Gemstone, 65.87.90
Glass Ring, 63.161.22d
Gold Ring with Inset Carnelian Gemstone, 65.87.8
Glass Ring, 63.161.22a

Selection of Rings

Gemstones set into metal rings were prized possessions for men, who used them to mark seals on documents and merchandise. The popularity of these metal rings led to the creation of glass imitations.  Although glass rings could not be used as seals, they were nonetheless used to convey social status and personal style.

Gold rings were expensive, due to inherent value of the the material from which they were made and the status they carried; in Rome, only men from the senatorial class were permitted to wear gold.  Bronze rings, which were less expensive, were also available; the bronze was often gilded to give the appearance of gold,  or, in the example seen here, decorated with a gold bezel.  A comparison of two gold rings alongside with their glass counterparts demonstrates how cleverly glassmakers were able to imitate the metal prototypes by simulating the color and sheen of the gold and gemstones.  It is perhaps surprising that the glassmaker imitated a bronze ring, since gold rings were more prestigious.  The color combination, however, provides notable contrast and may have been of interest to artist and patron. 


Location: 2nd floor, gallery

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Cite As

"Selection of Rings" (63.161.22a). Bloomington: Indiana University Art Museum, 2014.