Value of old Roman intaglios?

Interesting timing. I have been looking for actual Roman intaglios on
the net for the past few weeks. Had a few lovely examples I was
bidding on in e-bay, when one bidder ran the price up to over $550 on
one piece alone. Does anyone know the actual value of old Roman
intaglios? These were not refined examples in any way. Rather crudely
cut, but lovely none the less. The auction stated that they were
between 1000 BC and 300 AD. This is not an area that I have any
expertise in, so what should ancient intaglios go for? Anyone know?

Lisa, ( Waiting for the rains to hit, and I have an outdoor tea
planned for tomorrow. Figures.) Topanga, CA USA

Ancient Jewelry is worth what someone is willing to pay. The only
answer is to try and review past auction prices (not Ebay but
legitimate auction houses) I bought over a dozen cameos blood
carnielian set from the sale of the jewelry pieces from the San
Francisco Gem Museum. They look like they were taken from a headpiece
circlet or crown. There are also 3 included that show the progression
of carving. I believe they are the senators and their wives I am
still researching.

To me they are priceless to the seller on ebay they were worth $50
as that is what it ended at to my disbelief. Sometimes people don’t
know what they have and it slips by collectors too.

Use your best judgement remember all things apply as in condition
condition condition. Good luck hunting.


P.S. if I had a nickle for every intaglio listed as a cameo I would
be rich

An American Cameo Artist

A comments on your post.

1 - Actually, TWO bidders (or, one bidder and a shill) ran up the
price to over $550. One bidder would have bought it at the opening

2 - Are you refering to intaglio cut STONES or METAL? I see many of
both on eBay.

3 - The majority of “ancient artifacts” found on eBay are
reproductions meant to deceive the buyer, many crafted in eastern
Europe and the middle east. There are many suppliers of these items
on eBay with spotless feedback, who nevertheless sell fakes EVERY DAY
to their unsuspecting clients.

Here is an example:

In Columbus, Ohio, next to the wholesale Merchandise Mart, there
used to be a wholesaler of Chinese antiques. This dealer had a 20,000
foot warehouse stuffed with these antiques that retail business reps
could browse through. The only problem was that they would have 50
pieces of exactly the same Ming vase, in exactly the same state of
preservation. Were they authentic? Absolutely not! Were they SOLD as
authentic? YES! This is the state of eBay today. There are tens of
thousands of Bulgarians, Romanians, Lebanese, Greeks, etc., etc.,
that work in the fake antiquities business, pouring forth coins,
jewelry, pottery, glassware, weapons, whatever you can imagine, using
the original processes and artificially aging the items so that it
takes a bonifide expert to tell them from real. Even the experts can
be fooled many times, because the forgers are constantly coming up
with new processes to better mimic style and aging of their fakes.

Sadly, even if an item has 200 years of proven history, it could
STILL be a fake, as these fakes have been made for hundreds of years.

Good luck!

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers

Hi All;

I can’t speak to the value of the intaglios, but the original post
asked if it was possible to make cast glass copies from molds taken
from some intaglios. I once did an experiment along these lines. I
carved some “buttons” of various shapes using carvable wax. The shape
of these was such that they could “draft” out of a mold. In other
words, no undercuts that would prevent them from being lifted up out
of a mold. I found some small cardboard boxes and glued the buttons
on the bottom using sticky wax. I then poured casting investment over
them and let them set up. I peeled away the cardboard and lifted the
buttons out of the plaster. Next, I put these in my kiln and dried
them for an hour at around 300 deg. F. I took some broken glass from
old green wine bottles, cobalt blue cosmetic jars, etc and placed
what seemed to me enough in each mold that when it melted it would
fill them. I took the kiln up to around 1500 degrees and looked in.
The glass had formed globules, one in each mold. I then decided the
glass needed to be pressed down into the mold so I took some pieces
of kiln shelving (blocks of plaster would work) and pressed down. I
left them sitting that way and turned off the kiln. I let it cool
completely, most of the day. When I was finished, I had some pretty
successful pressed glass jewels. They were matt in finish, would
probably acid polish, but I jus sand blasted them and buffed them a
bit using cerium oxide. I sure results would vary depending on type
of glass, etc., but the detail was pretty good. Here and there, a bit
of evidence of the glass folding up against itself, which I think
higher melting temperatures would correct (unless you liked the

David L. Huffman

Hi David,

Good job on the glass casting! I have done some work in glass,
blowing, casting and pate de verre, and that is pretty much how it
is done. Use dental investment, as it has more expansion capability,
and cool very slowly so that the work doesn’t disintegrate later down
the line due to incompatibility or improper cooling which causes
internal stress. Ever had an ashtray that you’ve had for months or
years just go “pop”, and split in half for no apparent reason?
Cooling too fast is the reason. There is on how to do
this properly on- line if you look. There is some good info on this

Although bottle glass will work, it is tough, yes glass can toughen,
and won’t flow as well as fresh manufactured cullet. The best bet is
to use colored glass rod bought from a glass supplier, for example:
Olympic at, or Wale: or even Supplies/Glass/ The German rod is
the finest with the best color varieties, it is more expensive, but
truly worth it.

Or try pate de verre by using colored glass in powdered form.
Bullseye is a good company for that. Definitely, pressing down on the
glass is helpful in making small pieces, as the weight of the glass
is not sufficient to fill the mold on its own.

If you want a polished finish, you will have to invest in a flat
metal glass lap wheel and use finer and finer grits, just like with
stone. Its easy to do. A good alternative if you don’t find the
finished product that you are looking for. Good luck!

Lisa, (yeah yeah…I know…I should make my own dang
intaglios…lol) Topanga, CA USA

Ouch!..You sound pretty upset Lee. Did you get seriously burned
buying something off of E-Bay? Sorry. My question wasn’t if the work
I was looking at was fake, but what actually is the going price for
ancient intaglios. I have gotten some incredibly lovely stuff off of
E-bay, and a very few things that made me shake my head and
laugh…usually at myself for thinking I could get such a great deal.
Lately however, I bought an old garden gate for $45 that I was able
to verify came from an old redone cemetery from 1890. It is gorgeous!
So who knows?

One always runs the risk of “antique” articles being fake whether you
buy them off of the web, or spend mucho time examining them carefully
in person. Even experts are fooled over and over again. Then again
there is the situation of the Getty and other museums buying both
fake and real items from looted sites. Don’t think the Getty got
anything off of E-Bay, although given past history, I wouldn’t put it
past them…lol… I live near the joint.

Are you refering to intaglio cut STONES or METAL? I see many of
both on eBay. 

An intaglio is of course in metal, stone, and is also a print. As I
am a jeweler, as I said, I was looking at stones to use in my work.
It would be a stretch for me to bezel set a print or some old brittle
incised ring. One or two of the rings looked pretty interesting
though design-wise, real or not.

I think buying anything off of the web, either on E-bay, or even what
you might consider a “reputable site” is a caveat emptor situation.
(ancient latin pun/reference intended). You use common sense, stay
within a budget and keep your expectations low. That usually works
for me.

So…does anyone out there have an idea of what a very old genuine
intaglio might go for outside of E-Bay? Think roughly and simply
done, not a full depiction of Ceasar on his chariot, or something in
the collection of the crown jewels. I would still love to know. :slight_smile:

Lisa, (haven’t had to fire up the wood stove yet, but I can feel it
coming) Topanga, CA USA

Fake intaglios are a real problem. Many are made in Israel. Fact is
though if you pay a reasonable price these so-called fakes are really
quite well executed. The fact that they are represented as antique is
the real issue.

As for Ebay, did a search for Paraiba Tourmaline and came up with
about 40 stones at auction. From the photos it was clear that 95%
were not Paraiba. Caveat emptor.


For Information and sample chapters from my new book:

I have been dealing in Roman intaglios on and off for twenty years.
I have bought them in Paris, Athens, Boston, N.Y. and even once in
Tucson. They are tiny sculptures of the period. Value has to do with
a number of factors. Size, quality of engraving, condition, etc. They
are the most abundant and least expensive intaglios in a tradition
that goes back to about 6,000 BC.


For Information and sample chapters from my new book:

Just to further Lee’s input…whilst living in South Korea in the
early 70’s I clearly remember a sign above a shop that read:
“ANTIQUES - made to order”

That about says it all, huh?

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


Greetings. FYI, there is an Italian company that does all of their
designs based on old Greek and Roman castings. Their name is

Heart of Stone

Hello, there is an auction house in Chicago that sometimes has
antiquities. The name of the firm is Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. I used to
buy coins from them. I no longer collect so I haven’t been is touch
for a few years. They used to sell Intaglios, the prices as with
everything varies. They were often about $500 and up. Check them

Good luck. Dennis

Perhaps the first to reproduce stone intaglio’s in glass was the
Scottish craftsman James Tassie (1735-1799). “Tassies” are
beautifully executed and have value and their own right. The Romans
also made glass paste intaglios that were not considered copies.

In the market, the Sassanian (Pre-Islamic Persian) are the least
expensive and the really well executed classic period Greek the most
expensive. Intaglios were something of a fad item in Ancient Rome, so
there are a lot around. Really well executed pieces do command a high
price. I set them in signet style rings mostly for men.


For Information and sample chapters from my new book:

Hi Gang,

Even experts are fooled over and over again. 

Every time I hear/see the term expert, I’m reminded of the
definition of ‘Expert’ an old manager of mine had.

An expert is some guy from at least 50 miles away with a brief case,
that doesn’t know any more than you do.


There are a few real experts but it is difficult.

Had a conversation a few years ago withs Hans Ulrich Pauley. He is
Erwin Pauley’s son and one of the most skillful modern gem carvers. I
have a collection of intaglio blanks, basically pieces of carnelian,
some old, some new, that illustrate the sorts of treatments used in
Roman times and modern to look like Roman.

On a few occassions he (Pauley) has copied fine old pieces. He said
that he would have difficulty telling the difference. One of the ways
to spot a fake is to find the one that was copied. If it isn’t in a
public collection that is truly difficult.


For Information and sample chapters from my new book: