The Victoria & Albert Museum
Engraved and carved gemstones have been employed in jewels since ancient Greece in the 8th century BC and earlier. The art developed over time into cameos and intaglios.
This Roman imperial intaglio depicts a hand, reaching out to pinch an ear, and would have been intended as a gift to a loved. What exactly does this motif mean? Historically, a hand pinching or touching an ear was meant to symbolize a stimulus to memory, thought to derive from the writings on natural history by Pliny the Elder. It’s a fairly common theme in Roman gems, and the Greek inscription of “MNHM/O/NEYE” translates as “Remember.”