The use of bird imagery, specifically peacocks and doves, was common amongst the Late Roman and Byzantine period. In this case, the combined scene is clear. The dove represents the Holy Spirit, who is usually depicted holding an olive branch. The star motif, whilst a little crude, could represent either a cross or the chi-rho christogram. After the 4th century, when Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, scenes such as this were an open display of a wearer’s faith. Prior to this, when Christians were persecuted for their beliefs and expression of faith was clandestine, scenes such as this could simply represent a bucolic scene. To those that shared such beliefs however, the secret meaning was clear.
To discover more about Byzantine jewellery with Christian imagery, please visit our relevant blog post: The Byzantine Empire, Art and Chrstianity.