Ancient Roman Decorative Glass and Gold Necklace


A restrung ancient Roman necklace composed of polychromatic glass beads. The marvered beads are largely uniformed in size and rounded in form, and range in colour from deep blue to dark amber. Interspersed between the glass beads are gold loops, flanking each side of a single glass bead, followed by a group of three. The centre of the necklace features a larger, spherical bead, made of gold and featuring two domed ends with protruding ribs. Each segment is filled with glass paste, which have once been coloured. Each glass bead is unique in its form, translucently and colour. The necklace is finished with a modern gold-plated S-shaped clasp.

Date: Circa 3rd- 4th century AD
Provenance: Ex M.N. London Collection, 2000s
Condition: Very fine. Modern clasp.

In stock

SKU: GW-17 Category: Tag:

The mass production of glass in Ancient Rome prompted the development of glass jewellery. Core-formed and cast-vessels were first produced in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but only started being imported around 500 BC. However, the Roman Glass industry developed to full maturity during the first half of the firt century. This was likely due to Rome’s emergence as a political and economic strength in the Mediterranean world which attracted skills artisans to the city, but also coincided with 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 stones like rock crystal, carnelian and sapphire. Roman jewellery at first followed trends set by the Etruscans, using gold and glass beads, but as the power and spread of the Roman Empire increased, jewellery designs became increasingly elaborate. 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.

To find out more about Roman glass please see our relevant blog posts: Ancient Glass and Collecting Roman Glass 

Weight 14.5 g
Dimensions L 56 cm




Reference: For similar style: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 10.130.3269

You may also like…