18th Century Early Georgian Hand-Carved Italian Coral Bacchante Cameo Ring

18th Century Early Georgian Hand-Carved Italian Coral Bacchante Cameo Ring


Hand-carved by an Italian artisan in the mid-1700s, this cameo is made of genuine coral, also Italian, and bezel set in a 14k yellow gold split-shank ring. The figure featured is the Roman mythological Bacchante character, a priestess who also followed Bacchus, the god of wine, agriculture, and fertility. The Greek mythology equivalent of this figure is the maenad who was a follower of Dionysus.

Bacchantes were said to be dressed in fawn and fox skins with flowers and fruits intertwined in their hair, and decorate themselves with snakes. In myths, such women would be in a constant intoxicated frenzy, raving over their god-leader, sexually open and free, prone to tearing into the animals they came across in the forests, and known for explicitly dancing and practicing rituals and rites under the moon.

Images of these celebrants of Bacchus and Dionysus often decorated ancient vessels called kraters, which were used to hold mixtures of water and wine for parties. At these symposiums, one man would be elected as the designated “lord of the common drink” whose sole task was to keep tabs on the inebriation level of the attendees, using a krater to proportionately dilute the remaining wine with water as the evening wore on.

Cameo rings depicting Bacchante figures grew to popularity during the Georgian era, and again during the Victorian era; front-facing cameos were most common in earlier carvings, and profile views were prevalent in later carvings. This ring’s evident chiseling techniques, facial characteristics and metal handling indicate that it dates to the early to mid Georgian period, likely between 1715-1750.

The portrait is in relatively high relief, with rounded features compared to later Victorian Bacchante carvings which mimicked Greco-Roman stylism and garb. Upon close appreciation one can make out bulbous fruits crowning the cameo’s head, petaled flowers tucked within her flowing hair, snake-like details draped to her shoulders, and wild animal furs cloaking her décolletage. The gold shank is split on the shoulders, meeting together at a repousséed arrow point that is capped by a circular shape. The lower half of the shank is left smooth, and the backing of the cameo itself is solid gold.

Beginning in the mid-1700s, it was common for wealthy British and colonial young adults and newly-weds to depart on a “Grand Tour”, a sometimes years-long trip to famous parts of Europe, and most centrally, Italy. Often, cameos were purchased as souvenirs from the artisan himself in Italy, and would be mounted into a ring, brooch or necklace according to the purchaser’s preferences and specifications once back home. Perhaps this ring bears a souvenir cameo from a soul-searching twenty-something of 18th century Europe, a reminder of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure into the heart of Italy, a little memorial to the luxurious self-indulgence of being young and free.

  • US Size: 4.75

  • Total Yellow Gold Weight: Approx. 2 dwt

  • Band Material: 14k Yellow Gold

  • Weight: 2g

  • Center Stone Type: Genuine Natural Coral

  • Center Stone Face Dimensions: 19.1 mm long x 12.7 mm wide x 9.5 mm high

  • Center Stone Shape: Oval

  • Center Stone Color: Bright Red

  • Center Stone Clarity: Blackish Natural Inclusion in Lower Right

  • Epoch: Georgian (1714- 1830), likely c. 1715-1750.

Prior to procurement, this ring was evaluated and verified by an independent Graduate Gemologist. All diamond and gemstone grading was done under GIA standards as the mounting permits, where gemstones are present, and where mountings impede accurate measurements, approximated dimensions are provided. All weights and measurements were professionally estimated and approximate, and industry standard and accepted treatments for gemstones are assumed unless otherwise noted. 

All items in Revival’s inventory are in vintage condition; all jewelry procured bears wear to finish and stones that is consistent with age and use. Be sure to have prongs checked yearly, and note that most rings may easily be resized at your preferred jeweler at nominal cost. Keep in mind that photographs cannot accurately capture the luminosity, reflectivity or refractivity of diamonds and gemstones.

All fine jewelry purchases will arrive professionally cleaned, polished and buffed. Items will be discreetly and safely packaged, with insurance included in every purchase. Should you have any questions, be sure to ask prior to purchasing.

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