Cornelian Intaglio Signet Ring with an Image of Pope Gregory XVI
Cornelian Intaglio Signet Ring with an image of Pope Gregory XVICornelian Intaglio Signet Ring with an image of Pope Gregory XVI
Cornelian Intaglio Signet Ring with an image of Pope Gregory XVI, Inside
Cornelian Intaglio Signet Ring with an image of Pope Gregory XVI, Close up

This artifact is a cornelian intaglio signet ring in unmarked white metal with an image of Pope Gregory XVI. It is a combination of red and maroon, and in certain light, it tends towards black.

The internal measurement is 18 mm, and the whole structure is very solid and certainly vintage.

Intaglio  are techniques in art in which an image is created by cutting, carving or engraving into a flat surface and may also refer to objects made using these techniques, such as this particular ring.

Cornelian  (usually spelled “carnelian”) is a reddish-brown variety of the mineral chalcedony.

The very famous maker of this ring is Giuseppe Girometti whose signature can be seen directly under the intricately carved mozzetta worn on the Pope.

Giuseppe Girometti
1780 – 1851

Giuseppe Girometti: Italian Master Carver

 Giuseppe Girometti  was an Italian gem cutter, die cutter, sculptor and medalist and one of the most important gemstone engravers of the first half of  the 19th century.

He first devoted himself to sculpture, then to gemstones  (gems carved deeply from pietra dura –stone mosaic ). In the manufacture of these stones, also known as intaglio, he was one of the leading artists in Europe.

His best works include:

  • two large cameos with the head of Genius in the funerary monument of Pope Clement XIII. and the head of Antonio Canovas Perseus
  • an intaglio by Antonio Canova’s Terpsichore and Magdalena
  • an intaglio of Pietro Tenerani ‘s Psyche and a portrait of the client, Count Sommariva
  • Hebe giving nectar to Zeus (no original)
  • the head of Phokion (according to an antiquity).

He also portrayed Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte , Tsar Alexander II of Russia, George Washington and others in pietra dura. For the private cabinet of the Grand Duke of Tuscany he cut two large cameos depicting Jupiter slaying the giants and Perseus with Andromeda .

Even more significant are ten gems found in the Vatican Library: Medusa, Jupiter, Hercules, Paris, Minerva, Antinous, Arethusa, a Bacchante, Jupiter versus the Titans, and Phoebus Apollo.

Girometti also made a name for himself in die cutting and worked on the Papal Mint for Popes Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII and Gregory XVI.

Among his best works are his commemorative medals to Cardinal Ercole Consalvi and Canova, and the Medal of Honor to the poet Giovanni Battista Niccolini .

Pius VII had him medal the Piazza del Popolo with its surroundings and the recovery of the dead San Francesco. Leo XII commissioned him, among other things, with a work for the opening of the Jubilee Year. For the city of Orvieto he medaled its cathedral.

His son Pietro Girometti (1811-1859) was also a medalist.  Father and son worked on numerous projects together, so that it is difficult to clearly assign some of the works due to the similar engraving style of both artists.