The art of carving or engraving precious and semiprecious stones (glyptic) dates from as early as the 4th millennium B.C. Today objects obtained by engraving are called intaglios, and those carved in relief are called cameos.
Intaglios were used in Roman time (and much earlier) as objects of adornment, as amulets and as seals. In jewelry, intaglios and cameos were used either independently, inserted into clasps, amulets-medallions, or as parts of diadems, necklaces and earrings. The majority of the preserved intaglios were set in rings.
They were made of garnet, chalcedony, agate, obsidian, opal, quartz, amethyst, jasper, onyx and natural crystal. They usually feature Roman deities Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Mars, Mercury, Sol, Heracles, Amor, Victoria and Fortuna, although there are also some representations from everyday life.
Although very small, these objects give us an insight into the iconography, mythology and everyday life of the people of the classical world.