Ancient Greek, Hellenistic Gold and Carnelian Earrings

£ 1,350.00

A beautiful pair of ancient Greek, Hellenistic gold earrings with carnelian pendants. Each earring features an ellipsoid bezel, attached to the front of a gold wire hoop and set with a vibrant, polished carnelian stone. The bezel is further embellished with a row of gold granules around its perimeter. Dangling from the bottom of the hoop is a delicate gold pendant modelled in an amphora-like form. It is composed of a ribbed, tubular body with a spherical terminal, ending in a granule cluster. Two elegantly scrolled gold strips decorate either side of the body, intimidating the handles. The earrings feature a hook-and-eye closure to the reverse.

Date: Circa 2nd-1st century BC
Provenance: From a collection of a London lady, acquired annually during 1990s-2000s.
Condition: Very fine. Slightly misshapen  hoops, due to age. Terminals are curled shut.


SKU: CY-179 Category: Tag:

As in many ancient societies, jewellery was an important social marker used to demonstrate wealth and richness. In Ancient Greek culture jewellery was worn in everyday life but was also buried with the decease as part of his or her funerary outfit. Jewellery might have been enriched by precious and semi-precious stones and decorative motives would have included popular myths, gods, goddesses, and heroes.

Carnelian is a translucent variant of chalcedony, and ranges in colour from light orange to dark brown. It is slightly softer than the likes of sard, and so is ideal for carving. The colour of stones was important in antiquity, with some varieties considered, through sympathetic magic, to increase fertility, ease childbirth, and provide relief and protection from afflictions (such as scorpion bites, stomach ailments, and eye disease). Written sources list a host of powers attributed to stones, for instance protection against the evil eye, the guarantee of safe travel, a better understanding of rhetoric, and even victory in court. In ancient Greece and Rome, carnelian in particular was believed to enhance passion, love, and desire. Fine jewellery was used as a status symbol in ancient cultures, and to possess a complete a set of beads in such good condition is truly a rarity.

To find out more about different metal decorative techniques please see our relevant blog post: Decorative Metalwork Techniques

To discover more about gemstones in Antiquity, please visit our relevant blog post: The History and Mythology of Jewellery in Antiquity.

Weight 3.85 g
Dimensions L 1.7 x W 0.8 x H 4.0 cm



Semi-Precious Stones

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