Byzantine amuletic ring
A Byzantine era amuletic ring, circa 7th – 8th century A.D. The high carat gold shank contains a swivelling plaque depicting images of saints, on the obverse Saint Stephen and on the reverse a warrior saint with sword. Stéphanos, meaning ‘wreath or crown’ and by extension ‘reward, honour, renown, fame’, was traditionally venerated as the first martyr of Christianity. In the Byzantine era the worlds of superstition, magic and faith intersected. Images of Christ, the Virgin and saints were considered to be apotropaic, invoking divine power and protecting the wearer from evil and ill health. The wearing of such images on a ring next to the skin was thought to increase the efficacy of the saint’s protective power. The ring is size J [US 4 and 5/8]. It has survived in remarkably fine and wearable condition. For a Byzantine ring of similar form see Plate 512 in The Alice and Louis Koch Collection.