The awe-inspiring sapphire ring, dating back 2,000 years, is truly remarkable. This ancient gem is a precious Roman artifact that is believed to have once adorned the finger of Caligula, the infamous third Roman emperor who ruled from 37 to 41.
Originally named Gaius Julius Caesar after the renowned Julius Caesar, Caligula acquired the nickname “Caligula,” meaning “little soldier’s boot.”
Caligula is eternally remembered as a ruler who possessed both intelligence and cruelty. While debates about his sanity persist, there is no denying that he was one of the most tyrannical emperors in ancient Rome. He demanded to be worshipped as a god by his contemporaries, engaged in incestuous relationships with his sisters, and even entertained the idea of appointing his horse as a consul. His reign was marred by a constant cycle of torture and executions.
If historical accounts accurately depict Caligula’s behavior, then one could argue that this exquisite ring is as aesthetically pleasing as Caligula was repulsive.
The captivating sky blue hololith, crafted from a precious gemstone, is believed to feature Caesonia, Caligula’s fourth and final wife. Rumors circulated that she was so stunningly beautiful that the emperor would occasionally request her to parade naked in front of his friends.
Caesonia must have possessed an extraordinary allure, as she was described by Suetonius, a Roman historian, as a “woman of reckless extravagance and wantonness.”
Caligula’s love affair with Caesonia resulted in the birth of Julia Drusilla. Caesonia held an eminent position in Caligula’s life, serving as his most trusted confidant. Unfortunately, the couple was surrounded by enemies who sought to dethrone Caligula.
Caligula’s life came to a tragic end when he was assassinated through a conspiracy orchestrated by the Praetorian Guard led by Cassius Chaerea, senators, and courtiers. Caesonia and her daughter met a similarly gruesome fate. Various accounts provide differing versions of their murders. According to some, Caligula was stabbed in the chest, while others claim he was pierced with a sword between his neck and shoulder.
“According to Seneca, Chaerea managed to swiftly decapitate the emperor with one stroke. However, despite his demise, numerous conspirators proceeded to thrust their swords into the lifeless body.
Following the assassination, Chaerea dispatched a tribune named Lupus to kill Caesonia and Drusilla, the emperor’s young daughter.
Reports suggest that the empress bravely faced her demise, while the little girl was brutally dashed against a wall. Fearing the consequences of their actions, Chaerea and Sabinus fled into the depths of the palace complex and eventually escaped the city via an alternate route.”1
Caligula’s magnificent sapphire ring was once a prized possession of the Earl of Arundel, who owned it from 1637 to 1762 when it became part of the illustrious ‘Marlborough Gems’ collection.
Unsurprisingly, the ring caused a sensation when it appeared in a highly anticipated auction held by the esteemed Royal jewelers, Wartski.
“This prestigious ring is one of the renowned ‘Marlborough Gems,’ formerly owned by the Earl of Arundel. Crafted entirely from sapphire, hololiths of this caliber are incredibly rare, and I dare say this is the finest specimen one can find. We firmly believe it belonged to the debauched Emperor Caligula, with the intricate engraving depicting his final wife, Caesonia,” explained Kieran McCarthy, Director of Wartski.