As in many ancient societies, jewellery was an important social marker used to demonstrate wealth. As a result of the expansion of the Roman Empire, Roman jewellery became more and more elaborate in its designs and materials used, such as precious and semi-precious gemstones. Roman jewellery often reflected the culture the Romans came into contact with, and can be viewed as a testament to the prosperity and power of the Roman Empire.
Cameo refers to a method of engraving semiprecious stones in high relief, in contrast with intaglios which were carved in negative. Romans wore jewellery enriched with cameos both to flaunt their sophisticated tastes and wealth, and to demonstrate their devotion to gods or political forces. Ancient Roman cameos were made mostly of semi-precious stones, such as agate, onyx and sardonyx. These fine earrings have been decorated with the depiction of the Gorgon Medusa. Although Medusa was perceived as a negative character in Roman mythology and culture, her iconography was widely used as an apotropaic symbol to decorate jewellery and everyday artefacts.