In the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, fibulae (or brooches) were originally used for fastening garments. They came in a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety pin principle. The Etruscans were very fond of fibulae, some of which were very large and decorated with elaborate granulation and processions of animals in relief. Roman conquests spread the use of the fibula, which became the basis for more complicated brooches. By the Middle Ages, the Roman safety pin type of fibula had fallen into disuse.
Glass-centre brooches are a later dated type, used by the elite. They were a British invention, exported onto the continent. They are mostly always oval or circular in shape, although the former is the more common of the two shapes. Even as brooches went out of fashion, this beautifully decorated type continued to be used as a statement piece of jewellery.