As in many ancient societies, jewellery was an important social marker used to demonstrate wealth and richness. In Ancient Greek culture jewellery was worn in everyday life but was also buried with the deceased as part of his or her funerary outfit. Jewellery might have been enriched by precious and semi-precious stones and decorative motives would have included popular myths, gods, goddesses, and heroes. In Ancient Greek and Roman mythology dolphins were associated with the sea and with the sphere of sensual love, bearing an amatory symbolism. Because of the assonance between the ancient Greek word delphis, δελφίς, meaning dolphin, and the word delphus, δελφύς, meaning womb, dolphins were considered animals sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, fertility and desire.
Ancient Greek Hellenistic Gold, Coral and Pearl Amphora Pendant with Dolphins
A fine Greek, Hellenistic, gold amphora-type pendant, decorated with stylised handles in the form of undulating dolphins. At it’s centre, and forming the core of its drop feature, is a cylindrical coral bead, followed by a circular pearl bead, and terminating in a small aubergine conical glass bead. The body terminates in a thin gold disc and is held in place by a concave, flattened conical foot decorated with a ribbed wire around its perimeter. Beautiful iridescence can be seen on the aubergine glass bead. The pendant is further embellished with two dolphins, finely modelled in gold, one at each side of the suspension loop, creating the handles of the amphora. Fine detailing has been added to the dolphin’s fins and tail. A further gold loop has been added in antiquity to the top. The pearl bead is pierced horizontally, suggesting that such pendants may have been adapted from an earring in ancient times, with the suspension loop modelled from ancient gold. This beautiful item of jewellery testifies to the extreme quality of Greek Hellenistic goldsmiths.
Provenance: Ex Japanese gentleman deceased collection, 1970-2010
Condition: Fine condition, suitable for modern wear with care.