The ancient Romans considered jewellery to be an essential accessory, for it provided a public display of their wealth. During the Roman Republic it became customary for all the senators, chief magistrates, and at last for the equites also, to wear gold rings. 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: this increasingly included sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, garnet and amber from India, and pearls (which were particularly prized).
To find out more about intaglios, please visit our relevant blog post: Engraved Gemstones in Ancient Rome.