LONDON.- The most precious gifts for Christmas do not have to be new. Beautiful jewellery that once adorned men and women of the ancient world, and many other unusual and delightful objects that would make perfect presents, are to be found at Rupert Wace Ancient Art, 14 Old Bond Street, London W1, from 24 November to 19 December 2008.
Necklaces, earrings, rings and pendants, that look as stylish today as when they were made some two thousand years ago, are surprisingly affordable. Amongst the necklaces is a delicate late 2nd century Roman gold chain decorated with silvery iridescent glass beads (£1,800), a carnelian necklace (£1,500) and an Egyptian blue faience necklace from the period of Tutankhamun (£7,000).
There are several Roman gold rings set with carved intaglios evoking the life and legends of the ancient world. Amongst them an early 1st century Graeco-Roman example, the agate intaglio cut with the figure of Fortuna, the goddess of good luck (£3,800), a 2nd century ring with a niccolo intaglio engraved with a naked Theseus holding his father Aegeuss sword (£6,800), a 2nd century cornelian or garnet intaglio with two nude women conversing at a washbasin set in a later Roman ring (£5,500) and a 2nd century ring set with a foil-backed garnet intaglio with a bird on an altar, a crescent moon and star (£5,000). There are also handsome and heavy Roman silver rings including one with a cornelian intaglio with the figure of Helios on his horse, circa 3rd century AD, (£2,000) and another from the 4th5th century set with a niccolo intaglio of a horseman holding a staff with an eagle or hawk on his outstretched arm (£2,200).
A pair of Roman gold earrings from the 3rd5th century could be yours for just £1,500 while elegant Byzantine jewellery includes a pair of 4th6th century gold earrings with amethyst drops and seed pearls (£2,000) and a gold cross with a central circular cabochon amethyst (£7,500).
A selection of small objects from antiquity offers a variety of unusual and fascinating gifts, for example a Roman marble head of a Triton from around 200 AD (£9,000). Only 7.5 cm high, it is full of life and movement, the thick locks of unruly hair sweeping in waves around the face as if wet with seawater. For animal lovers there is a Near Eastern terracotta vessel in the form of a kneeling camel with four amphorae strapped to its back dating from 3rd to 1st century BC (£6,400), while an Egyptian bronze head of a cat dating from the Late Dynastic Period, 664-332 BC, is £4,800. Another Egyptian piece dating from the 26th Dynasty, circa 570-526 BC, is a finely-crafted turquoise-blue faience ushabti, a figure placed in the tomb of an important official to work for the deceased in the next world (£18,500). Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. www.rupertwace.co.uk.