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: this increasingly included sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, garnet and amber from India, and pearls (which were particularly prized). Archaeological finds of Roman jewellery are relatively rare, considering the magnitude of Roman civilisation, and the historical and geographical span of the Empire.
Medusa was a Gorgon: a winged female with snakes for hair, and so hideous that all who looked upon her face turned immediately to stone. Although the earlier mythological tradition asserts that she was born a Gorgon, Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden, according to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The poet tells that Poseidon raped Medusa in the temple of Athena, who vengefully transformed Medusa into a gruesome monster.