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. The wide range of natural resources enabled artisans to create ostentatious jewellery using a diverse selection of materials. Amulet holders such as this would be worn around the neck and contain various elements. Examples have been found with threads inside (used in thread-magic), used as reliquary holders, or containing strands of hair. They were then filled with sulphur to protect the object inside.
For further information on the various metalwork techniques used in antiquity, please visit our blog: Decorative Metalwork Techniques.