All Columns in Alphabetical Order

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TALISMAN RINGS CAPTURE HEARTS OF BIDDERS: CERES COLLECTION TRIPLES ESTIMATE TO REALISE £300,000 Our Coverage Sponsored by Cosmopolitan Dental, Official Dentist of Whom You Know

The Best Dentist in Manhattan 
Official Dentist of Whom You Know: 
Cosmopolitan Dental 
30 E. 40th Suite 1001 
212 683 1960


The Collection is 100% sold in ‘white glove sale’

A select and serious group of bidders descended on the saleroom in Bond Street yesterday (17th September) for Bonhams sale of Fine Jewellery including The Ceres Collection of cameo and intaglio rings.

The Collection of 101 rings, which ranges in date from as early as the 4th Century BC, performed spectacularly well with 100% of lots sold in a ‘white glove sale’. The auction realized a total of over £300,000, tripling its pre-sale estimate.

The majority of rings doubled their estimates as bidders fought for their own piece of history. A number of prices soared ten and twenty times higher than expected as buyers waged war for their chosen amulet.

Historical and mythological figures, Roman gods and goddesses are carved into semi-precious stones and set into golden ring mounts. Gods of fortune, victory, love, light and harvest act as talismans, bringing good luck those who wear them – their legends emblazoned on the stones.

The top lot in the collection was an 18th-19th century octagonal intaglio ring carved in deep red garnet to show the portrait bust of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 –180 AD). Mounted in gold, the ring was estimated at £1,000-1,500 but sold for an almighty £31,250.

Two bidders engaged in a heated quick-fire bidding battle for an 18th-19th century intaglio showing the snake haired Medusa in grey-banded agate. The frantic bidding eventually finally froze at £27,500. Medusa was one of the Gorgons, the three petrifying sisters with writhing snakes for hair, whose monstrous appearance turned the beholder to stone. Her fearsome image was used in ancient times as a protective talisman on warrior's shields and later, as versions of her became more sympathetic, as a charm to avert the evil eye.

Another of the highlights was an ancient Roman onyx cameo fragment dating from the 1st-2nd century AD and mounted in a later golden surround and ring setting. Showing a Roman lady of high rank carved in profile, it sold for £25,000. The Emperor Augustus reigned supreme from 27 BC until AD 14. The "Augustan Age" was a time of great prosperity and a golden age of the arts. Portraits of the imperial family appeared on coins, statues and gems; the Empress Livia (wife of Augustus), for example, was often deified as the goddess Ceres.

Emily Barber, Director of Jewellery at Bond Street said: “The Ceres Collection is probably the most significant collection of cameos and intaglios to be seen on the market for several generations. The sale sparked international interest amongst collectors and connoisseurs of engraved gems as well as buyers who are new to this fascinating subject. The strong selling prices achieved accentuate just how rare it is for collections of this type to come up for auction.”

History of the Cameo

Cameos and intaglios have been collected and admired since antiquity. Their history dates back to the early civilizations of the near east, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Minoan Crete and Cyprus, when intaglios – where the design is cut into the stone – were used as seals and means of identification as well as to show off the owner’s wealth.

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is the world’s third largest auctioneer of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

Back to TOP