The mass production of glass in Ancient Rome give rise to the popularity of glass jewellery. Evidence suggest that the core-formed and cast-vessels, which were initially produced in Egypt and Mesopotamia, were imported since 500 BC. Until the first half of the first century, the Romans saw the glass industry developed to full maturity. Such growth was prompted by combined factors of growing Roman influence in the Mediterranean world, increasing in skilled artisan population and the invention of glassblowing.
The ancient Romans considered jewellery to be an essential accessory, for it provided a public display of their wealth. Glass elements in jewellery such as beads, cameos and intaglios were created to imitate semi-precious gemstones like crystals, carnelian and sapphire. Roman jewellery at first followed the trends of Etruscans, adopting gold and glass beads. However, their jewellery designs became more elaborate as the power and spread of the Roman Empire increased. Different cultural styles from Greece, Egypt, North Africa, and the Orient were all incorporated to reflect Rome’s prosperity as a dominant, conquering city.
The ageing process of glass endows Roman glass jewellery with unique qualities. For instance, contaminants manufactured into the glass, exposed to the surrounding environment over thousands of years, result in beautiful lustres and speckling, where the glass might formerly have been transparent.