A BRIEF HISTORY
If you had to describe ancient Roman jewelry, then the best phrase to use would be: ‘intricate designs.’ The Romans used a plethora of different metals, colors, stones, and beads, etc. to craft extraordinary pieces.
All the resources available to them inspired the kinds of materials used to craft the jewelry, as well as their stunning designs.
They got most of their metals and gems from the Mediterranean territories they resided in, as well as the exotic imports delivered from Persia and India.
It wasn’t uncommon for wealthy men to wear silver rings, bracelets with collars, pendants, and torcs.
Men would often wear rings with engraved gems. There were then used to impress the wearer’s rank or their family crest into the wax that would seal their letters, and thus the birth of ‘signet rings’.
Roman women would curate large collections of jewelry often in a set. It was common for them to wear more jewels than the men.
It was fashionable for ladies to wear all of the following at the same time:
- Rings (usually more than one, showcasing various metals and designs).
Even the more practical accessories like brooches were decorated using colorful stones, and precious metals.
Women would usually pierce their ears, yet they would only wear one set of earrings at a time.
Fun Fact: Jewelry was massively important to women because it was generally considered their property.
They could keep their jewelry separate from their husband’s wealth and use as they felt necessary i.e., they could buy, sell, and give away their jewelry, however, they saw fit.
Romans would wear massive, eye-catching rings that indicated their social status. Here’s a quick rundown of who would wear what:
- Senators and Bureaucrats: wore gold rings with a generously sized gemstone, so everyone could see at a glance how important they were.
- Plebians (also known as the commoners): were only allowed to wear rings made out of iron. Occasionally, they were awarded golden rings for bravery in battle (which obviously they were allowed to wear)
- Bracelets were typically made from gold and pearls and would adorn both wrists. They had a purely decorative function. It wasn’t uncommon for bracelets to depict coiling snakes, fastened by golden pins.
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