A walk through the Jewel in Greece and Rome

This week in the History of Jewelry section we will take a walk through the jewel in Greece and Rome. Two of the most influential civilizations in history. In it we will see what techniques the master craftsmen used to make jewelry with great skill.


We will observe that many of the jewels that are made today have a clear influence with the jewels of this time.


The Greeks were excellent craftsmen in the use of metal. Influenced by the Egyptians, they masterfully mastered the various techniques used in their jewelry.

The techniques that were used the most were stamping and enamelling, although embossing, granulation, burin carving, filigree, braiding, inlay and setting were practiced with great skill.

The symbols used in the Greek jewel were of an animal and vegetable nature. From the animal world were the heads of lion, bull and ram; and from the plant world the rosettes, flower petals and leaves of laurel, oak and ivy.

Spiral shaped pieces and chains of crimped and braided wire were worked (fig. 5). It goes without saying that most of the pieces that we know today were found in burials and shrines. The most representative pieces of the Greek period were necklaces, tiaras, bracelets, buttons and needles. Thanks to sculpture and painting, we can interpret the use that was given to the most common pieces used by the Greeks in their clothing, headdresses and other details.

The most used and best preserved metal was gold, although silver was also worked with, but this more deteriorated over time; and almost no enameled pieces remained, which appeared totally affected by humidity.

god of Rome

According to Richter, Gisela MA (1988) [1]. The use of electro, a natural alloy of gold and silver, was also common in ancient jewelry, as it was in the production of coins. In addition to these, less precious metals were also used, such as bronze, lead and iron, especially for rings and bracelets. Golden terracotta jewelery has sometimes been found in tombs, used as a cheap replacement for original pieces. ”

According to Huyghe, René. (1977) [2] . The Hellenistic period also stands out for the abundance of coinage, sometimes excellent, and for the appearance of cameos (cameo from Viena and Gonzara’s cameo) and a jewelery whose virtuosity of workmanship and sumptuousness are not always without bad taste ”.

The Romans in their jewelery used enamel with great frequency and worked the cameo technique with great mastery.

The ring was the most used ornament, both for men and women, it used to be usually made of gold or iron. The ring or seal with the stamping of a shield of gold, silver or with a stone set in the center, will be of Hellenistic influence. The most common earring is going to be the pearl one; necklaces and bracelets were made with gold coins mounted in the shape of an arcade. Just like the snake bracelet existed, the snake ring will emerge.

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