Ancient Greek Hellenistic Gold, Carnelian and Garnet Dolphin Amphora Pendant


A fine ancient Greek, Hellenistic gold pendant, featuring an amphora-shaped carnelian bead. The large carnelian bead forms the centre-point of the pendant with a smaller garnet and coral bead below. The pendant is further embellished with two dolphins, finely modelled in gold. The dolphins act as a non-fixed decorative handles to the amphora and are rendered naturalistically with delicate engravings to indicate the fins, and tails. A suspension loop has been added to the top of the pendant. This beautiful item of jewellery testifies the extreme quality of Greek Hellenistic goldsmith art.

Date: Circa 2nd-1st Century BC
Condition: Excellent condition, slight encrustation visible to the surface.


SKU: LD-496 Category: Tag:

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.

To find out more about different metal decorative techniques please see our relevant blog post: Decorative Metalwork Techniques

Weight 1.57 g
Dimensions L 1.9 x W 1.5 cm




Reference: For amphora shape and dolphin handles: The British Museum, UK, item 1904,0706.1