In every ancient culture which falls under the period ‘Antiquity’, there is evidence of jewellery. Many grand civilisations inhabited the area of Western Asia in antiquity, and their wealth and prosperity are demonstrated through their sophisticated jewellery making. Precious and semi-precious stones, such as agate, lapis lazuli, and carnelian, were also widely used. Simple and elaborate and necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets would have been worn in everyday life but also buried with the deceased.
Coral, known for its vibrant orange and red hues, was a semi-precious material within the Ancient World. The original species was found mostly in the Mediterranean Sea and harvested, to be used in jewellery, as inlays or cabochons. Although naturally matte, it can be polished to give it a luminous shine. The Ancient Greeks labelled coral as ‘Gorgeia’, belonging to the Gorgons. It was believed that the hero Perseus, having slain Medusa, placed her head on the shore. In doing so, her poisonous blood had turned the surrounding seaweed and rushes into coral.