Byzantine jewellery was a full continuation of the Roman traditions. Production in the old jewellery centres of Alexandria and Antioch gave way to an increased production in Constantinople. In the Byzantine Empire jewellery played an important role. It acted as a way to express one’s status and as a diplomatic tool.
The name “amethyst” comes from the Greek, ‘amethystos‘, meaning “not intoxicated” (‘ἀ- a-, “not” and μεθύσκω ‘methysko‘ / μεθύω ‘methyo’, “intoxicate”). Already widely appreciated in Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures, where it was thought to have talismanic properties and was associated with the god Dionysus, the stone maintained its amuletic properties during the Byzantine era. It was believed that amethyst would prevent overindulgence, and protect its wearer against the effects of wine and poison.
To discover more about Byzantine jewellery and the use of gemstones in ancient jewellery, please visit our relevant blog posts: The Byzantine Empire, Art and Christianity and The History and Mythology of Gemstones in Ancient Jewellery.