The oval intaglio is carved with a three-faced gryllos with the main subject in the form of a bust of a youth, the other faces (one a bearded man, the other clean-shaven) forming the bust's helmet or Phrygian cap. Set in a high-walled gold bezel with the hoop emerging from behind a sheet gold border. The gold ring appears to be contemporary and belonging.
Fantastical combinations of human heads and animal parts are known as grylloi. According to Plutarch they had apotropaic properties to ward off the evil eye: 'it is thought that the objects said to act as safeguards against the evil eye derive their efficacy from their strangeness which attracts the evil eye and thus lessens its force against its victims.' Plutarch,Quaestiones Convivialis, V, 6, 681 F ff. For other grylloi, see G.M.A. Richter, Catalogue of Engraved Gems: Greek, Etruscan, and Roman, Rome, 1956, p. 539 ff; no. 556 for another helmet gryllos.