Byzantine Gold Appliques with Gold Granules and Garnets
A pair of very fine Byzantine gold appliqués displaying decorative garnets and carnelians, and an incredible fine goldsmith work. Both earrings feature a tongue-like shape, enriched to the top by banded glass paste insets, now displaying a nice mother of pearl like iridescence. The glass insets are held in place by an elaborate radiate gold cell, composed of gold granules. The earrings are further embellished by smaller garnet and carnelian insets equally dispersed across the length of each earring, together with twisted gold wires and gold granules. The reverses feature a suspension loop for attachment. Such appliqués might have been originally sewed to garments or used as a part of an elaborate necklace.
Date: Circa 12th-13th Century AD Provenance: Property of a North London gentleman; previously in a private collection formed in the 1990s Condition: Very fine, one inset is missing. These appliqués are suitable for modern wear with modern hook or stud applied. Please consult a professional jeweller for any alterations. Please note that the weight provided is for the pair.
Byzantine jewellery was a continuation of Roman traditions. As in many other cultures throughout history, Byzantine jewellery acted not only as an embellishment, but most importantly as a direct display of someone’s wealth and social status. Interestingly, it also acted as a diplomatic tool. The earring with composite pendant was the most common type of ear ornament during the Byzantine Empire. This type consists of a hoop to which is attached a small ring holding a single pendant, with the basic scheme allowing certain variations of detail. Precious stones or glass bead may be mounted in box-settings of square, rectangular, or circular shape. We know from literary sources that the production of precious metalwork and jewellery in Imperial workshops was controlled by the Imperial treasury, or officinum, which supervised the Imperial factories that made precious metalwork.
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