More ancient gold jewelry you can buy for $3,000 or less

Carnelian carved with the head of a philosopher mounted in a modern gold setting (est. $3,000-5,000, Christie's NY, Dec. 10, 2013)

Roman carnelian ringstone carved with profile of a philosopher in modern gold setting (est. $3,000-5,000, Christie’s NY, Dec. 2013)

A few years ago, we heard from G. Max Bernheimer, head of antiquities at Christie’s, that we can own a piece of ancient gold jewelry for $1,500 to $3,000, less than we might pay for a designer bauble.

As Christie’s prepares to unveil its 15th annual ancient jewelry sale in Rockefeller Center, I’m going to show you what kind of ancient jewels a couple grand will buy you now.

Let’s start with rings, since they’re probably the most prevalent form of jewelry from the ancient world and who wouldn’t want a Roman ring? Preferably with an intaglio, carved by hand, of course, using a hammer and chisel.

The labor and craftsmanship alone, not to mention that slice of history next to your flesh, should go for a premium. These rings are actually Roman stones in a modern settings – and “Roman” covers a far stretch in this genre, given the similarity of materials and subject matter throughout ancient Europe. But look at the artistry $3,000 will buy you – unless you get caught in a bidding war.

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Roman garnet engraved with a profile of Jupiter-Ammon (left) and Roman red jasper engraved with Mars, both c. 2nd century A.D., set in modern gold settings and estimated at $2,000-3,000, Christie’s NY, Dec. 13, 2013

There are quite a few impressive ancient intaglios and rings in this price range. Three grand probably won’t get you this amazingly contemporary-looking Roman gold ring. Made in the 1st century A.D. with a bezel-set cabochon sapphire, this one is expected to go for $5,000 to $7,000:

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Three grand will also not buy you this this granulated gold Mycenaean earring from the 13th century B.C., but $5,000 might:

Mycenaean gold earring, c. 13th century B.C., of solid tapering, crescent with fine granulation, 3.4cm (est. $5,000-7,000, Christie's NY, Dec. 13, 2013)

Mycenaean gold earring, c. 13th century B.C., of solid tapering, crescent with fine granulation, 3.4cm (est. $5,000-7,000, Christie’s NY, Dec. 13, 2013)

What will three grand buy you in ancient earrings? Here’s a sample. I saw a slew of them in that range and, as you see here, some for quite a bit less.

Roman earrings, c. 1st century A.D., of garnet bezel-set in gold with granulation and suspended with pearl and glass beads (est. $3,000-5,000, Christie's NY, Dec. 10, 2013)

Roman earrings, c. 1st century A.D., of garnet bezel-set in gold with granulation, pearl and glass beads (est. $3,000-5,000, Christie’s NY, Dec. 2013)

Hoop earrings of garnets and gold with granulation, c. 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D. (est. $1,500-2,000, Christie's NY, Dec. 10, 2013)

Hoop earrings of garnets and gold with granulation, c. 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D. (est. $1,500-2,000, Christie’s NY, Dec. 13, 2013)

Earrings of twisted wire terminating in a bull head protome, Hellenistic period, c. 3rd-2nd centuries B.C. (est. $1,500-2,000, Christie's NY, Dec. 10, 2013)

Earrings of twisted wire terminating in a bull head protome, Hellenistic period, c. 3rd-2nd centuries B.C. (est. $1,500-2,000, Christie’s NY, Dec. 13, 2013)

Roman gold earrings depicting theater mask of a comic slave, c. 1st century A.D., of gold sheet (est. $1,200-1,800, Christie’s NY, Dec. 13, 2013)

And here is what $3,000 will buy you in ancient necklaces.

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Western Asiatic necklace of turquoise and lapis beads with two gold eye-loop pendants and gold lunate pendant inlaid with turquoise (left, est. $1,200-1,800) and Bactrian necklace of turquoise beads (est. $2,000-3,000) at Christie’s NY, Dec. 2013

Mesopotamian torque of bronze cores wrapped with electrum sheet, pendant of twisted wire, early Dynastic period, c. 2550-2400 B.C. (est. $3,000-5,000, Christie's NY, Dec. 10, 2013)

Mesopotamian torque necklace of bronze core wrapped with electrum sheet and pendant of cones formed from two lengths of twisted wire, early Dynastic period, c. 2550-2400 B.C. (est. $3,000-5,000, Christie’s NY, Dec. 13, 2013)

Interesting jewelry on offer this holiday season, all on view just a few blocks apart. For $4,000, you can buy a torque necklace made by a Mesopotamian 2,500 years B.C. or resin earrings designed by JAR. What a world, huh?

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2 comments for “More ancient gold jewelry you can buy for $3,000 or less

  1. Eve Stuart
    July 13, 2015 at 12:18 am

    I am looking for some antique Roman jewellery auction calendar or antique jewellery fair in U.K. Could you help?

    Thank you!

  2. July 13, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Christie’s London is having an antiquities sale on October 1, no details yet. Sotheby’s London has a Fine Jewels sale on Dec. 1 and there may be Roman jewels there. I post links here when they become available: http://thejewelryloupe.com/jewelry-watch-auctions-in-2015/

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