Victorian Herakles Cameo Ring
Victorian shell cameo ring depicting the most famous of the ancient Greek heroes: Herakles. Or Hercules if you're Roman. Complete with his famous lion cloak and full beard, he's shown in profile and in hight relief, the artist expertly utilising the white band of the bull's mouth shell over an orange-brown background. Dating from the latter half of the 19th century, circa 1880, the cameo is mounted in a 9ct gold ring with simple split shoulders and bezel setting.
Heroes are the mortal offspring of gods, who prove their worth by daring and courageous deeds. Herakles (aka Heracles or Hercules) is probably the best known hero of them all... the mortal son of Alkmene and Zeus, he murdered his family while afflicted by a madness induced by Hera (who had already tried to kill him as an infant by sending serpents to his crib... the baby, already showing superhuman strength, promptly strangled the two snakes, one in each hand). When his head cleared and he realised what he'd done (to his family, not the snakes), the young lad was distraught with grief. He sought out Apollo, who told him the only way to atone for his crime was to seek out Eurystheos, the king of Mycenae, who would assign him seven tasks: the famous Labours of Herakles.
The first task was to kill a troublesome lion that was terrorising the folk of Nemea in the Peloponnesos. Eurystheos instructed Herakles to slay the beast, but his weapons were useless against the Nemean lion's impenetrable hide. Instead, he wrestled the lion to the ground, strangled it, and removed the creature’s tough hide with its own claws. Eurystheos was somewhat surprised to see the hero return with the lion pelt slung over his shoulder, so proceeded to set him more-and-more dangerous and/or apparently impossible tasks: slay the Lernaean Hydra; caputure Artemis's sacred deer, Hind of Keryneia (and this incur the wrath of the goddess); capture the wild boar of Erymanthos; clear out the Augean Stables (in one day); purge the man-eating birds of Lake Stymphalia; and finally to capture the Cretan bull. The bull, Eurystheos decided, was to be sacrificed in honour of Hera, who obviously refused the offering as it was a sign of Herakles's success, so the Mycenaean king set him an eighth labour (to return with the man-eating horses owned by the Thracian king Diomedes). And then a ninth. And then a tenth... eleventh... and finally a twelfth. The last was by far and away the most dangerous, the most impossible, requiring our weary hero to venture down to the underworld and return with Kerberos, the three-headed guard dog belonging to Hades himself. Which he naturally accomplished using nothing more than brute strength. Can you even imagine what Hera must have thought?
Era: Victorian circa 1880
Ring size: 6.75 US or N UK/AUS. Resizable for £35.
Head size: 2.1cm by 1.6cm
Stone: Shell cameo
Marks: Stamped 9ct
Condition: Great antique condition. Light wear consistent with age
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This includes a valuation for insurance purposes, item specifics, date, and origins (where applicable)
Gemstones are tested by an accredited gemmologist (Cert GA, Gemmological Association of Great Britain)
Express shipping is free of charge and carbon offset
Tracked and insured with signature on delivery
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Note: sizing may remove some of the patina (although we take every care to reduce this where possible)
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We offer detailed and accurate condition reports on each listing. These pieces are antique, vintage, or pre-loved, often over 100 years old so they're going to have lived a life. A healthy patina and the odd scuff/scrape are quite normal... it's part of their charm! Everything we present has been checked over by our jeweller and should be good for wear for many years to come (unless otherwise stated) but please remember to treat them with appropriate care and consideration for their age.
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