Ancient Roman Pair of Gold Earrings with Glass Beads

$435.38

A pair of Ancient Roman gold earrings, each featuring a rectangular frame enriched with two small glass beads, each covered with a beautiful iridescence, imitating pearls. A gold wire drop with an additional bead dangles from the bottom (the bead itself is now missing from one of the earrings). The back of each earring is reinforced with two flat gold rods, crossing at a diagonal, and a curved ‘s-shape’ hook protrudes from the reverse.

Date: Circa 1st-3rd century AD
Provenance: Acquired 1970-2010. Collection of a late Japanese gentlemen
Condition: Good Condition

SOLD

SKU: MJ-01 Category: Tags: ,

As in many ancient societies, jewellery was an important social marker used to demonstrate wealth within Roman cultures. Following the spread of the Roman Empire, jewellery became more and more elaborate in the complexity of designs and in the materials used, such as precious and semi-precious gemstones.

Glass was often used as a proxy for many desirable jewellery staples during this period such as turquoise, garnets, and also for pearls, like in this example. Pearls especially were highly treasured by the Romans, worn as a public display of wealth and prestige. Many Roman funerary portraits excavated in Egypt, show women of the high society wearing gold earrings with pearls. Before the development of cultured pearls in the early 20th century, all true natural pearls were exceedingly expensive, therefore inaccessible to most. Beads such as these provided an effective imitation.

Interestingly, hundreds of years later, faux pearls created in the 18th century (made of blown glass and coated with iridescent fish scales) developed the moniker ‘Roman pearls’.

Weight 2.21 g
Dimensions W 1.0 x H 2.2 cm
Culture

Glass

Metal

Region

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