The mass production of glass in Ancient Rome explains the common use of this material in jewellery-making. The ageing process of glass endows Roman glass jewellery with unique qualities. For instance, contaminants manufactured into the glass, combined with the surrounding environment over thousands of years, result in beautiful iridescence and speckling, where the glass might formerly have been transparent.
The ancient Romans considered jewellery to be an essential accessory, for it provided a public display of their wealth. 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, so too did 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. Archaeological finds of Roman jewellery are relatively rare, considering the magnitude of Roman civilisation, and the historical and geographical span of the Empire.