Following the trends set by the Romans, Byzantine jewellery became a continuation of Roman jewellery traditions. As in many other cultures throughout antiquity, Byzantine jewellery acted not only as an embellishment, but most importantly as a direct display of someone’s wealth and social status. Byzantine rings were often engraved with religious images and served as personal, miniature icons. Typical representations included the Corpus Christi, archangels, saints, and the Virgin Mary with Child. Monograms were also common decorative motif during the earlier centuries of the Empire. Written in Greek, with letters affixed on the arms of a Greek cross, cruciform monograms first appeared on Byzantine coins and were used to present names, titles and offices. They could also present invocative sentences, such as Κύριε βοήθει (Kyrie boethei – Lord help) or Θεοτόκε βοήθει (Theotoke boethei – Mother of God, help).
Byzantine Bronze Signet Ring with Cruciform Monogram
A Byzantine bronze signet ring featuring a round-section hoop with expanding shoulders. The piece bears a cruciform monogram, written in Greek and carved on the oval bezel. The letters Π Λ Τ Ε are arranged within the quadrants of a cross to form the name Πολυεύκτου (Polyeyctou). Usually abbreviating a word in the Genitive case, the monogram translates as ‘of Polyeyctos’, a Saint venerated in both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church.
Closest UK ring size: A 1/2.
Provenance: From a Surrey gentleman's collection (D.G.), purchased on the London Art market from ADA member, 1990s - onwards.
Condition: Very good condition, with patination remaining on the surface.