Greek and Roman Jewellery

Ancient jewellery made in Greece and Rome has been widely discussed in scientific literature. Special attention has been paid to the unique techniques, styles and historical context. Jewellery can be viewed as one of the valuable objects that survived from the ancient civilization. Nowadays jewellery is used not only as a piece of decoration, but also it may serve as an amulet, depending on the type of jewellery and the particular cultural context. Actually, “courtship practices involving the adornment of females [and] systems of symbolic body ornament generally are regarded as cross-cultural universals: practices and customs found in all human societies at all times” (Pinckernelle 7).

Greek and Roman jewellery attract attention of the public due to the use of various forms of symbolism in the precious metal wares and fine jewellery items. According to Kathia Pinckernelle, “it sets out to elucidate and place into the appropriate cultural context the motifs represented in jewellery from these civilizations”(2).  Greek and Roman jewellery play a significant role in the study of ancient art, styles and techniques, as well as help to better understand ancient social, religious and economic environment. The major goal of this paper is to discuss and evaluate the significance of Greek and Roman Jewellery as a crucial part of the evidence that has come from ancient times.

The major characteristics of Greek Jewellery

Ancient Greece is a place where European art took its birth. Jewellery as a minor art deserves special attention. Greek jewellery inspires strong emotions because practically the pieces of jewellery made by Greek craftsmen are unique in design. According to Jack Ogden, “the skill of an artist does not necessary depend on the scale of his work” (6). Greek craftsmen had a great talent in applying their skills and abilities to create beautiful pieces of jewellery, such as rings, necklaces, ear-rings and other items. Rai Govind Chandra states that “it was given them to realize the beauty of gems, to cut them, engrave upon them and polish them to bring out their full beauty” (23).

Actually, Greek lapidary and goldsmith joined their efforts to create beautiful pieces of jewellery. They produced two styles of jewellery pieces: cast pieces and hammered pieces. According to research, one of the major achievements of Greek art was reproduction of “perfect human forms” (Chandra 23). Greek craftsmen, including gem-cutters made efforts to reproduce the beauty of human body and other natural forms in their microscopic handicraft.

In Ancient Greece, heavy jewellery was used as decoration for the tombs of the dead. Archeologists have found the jewellery in the tombs, but this type of jewellery “should not be taken as the standard for the jewellery work by the Greeks” (Chandra 24). Many pieces of jewellery of Greek origin were sold all over the world. The most popular types of Greek jewellery include golden bracelets in the form of spirals, bands with small spirals and rosettes, beautiful signet rings, finger rings, broaches, large and heavy ear-rings, and other pieces. In general, the Ancient Greek jewellery found during many archeological expeditions were in actual use in Greece and other countries.

The major characteristics of Roman Jewellery

Roman jewellery had certain characteristics of Greek jewellery. According to Rai Govind Chandra, “the Romans when they got free from the Etruscan obsession began to borrow all their tastes from the Greeks whom they have conquered”; therefore the jewellery made in the period of the Roman Empire demonstrates practically the same motifs as those made by the Greeks (28). Historians state that in Rome, rich people often wore Greek jewellery. Many Roman craftsmen made attempts to copy the original Greek pieces of jewellery.

Nevertheless, there were some differences between Greek and Roman jewellery. In Rome, it was out of fashion to wear the ear-rings and bangles, but the Romans “used to put on a number of finger rings” (Chandra 28). Roman women wore beautiful cornets and torques. As a matter of fact, when Roman rule was established in Greece, there were no considerable changes in jewelry designs. By 27 B.C., Roman culture had seriously influenced Greek jewellery designs.

The main features of Roman jewellery were the use of precious stones, such as “diamonds, sapphires, aquamarines, peridots, citrines, and amethysts, which added color and brilliancy to the pieces of jewellery” (Ogden 36). Besides, there were different techniques used in manufacturing the pieced of jewellery. Reynold Alleyne Higgins suggests that “technically, Roman jewellery sees some falling off in the standards of workmanship” (175).  The most popular pieces of Roman jewellery include wreaths, diadems, ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets, finger rings, brooches, and other items.


Thus, it is necessary to conclude that ancient jewellery inspires strong emotions, bringing the public to close contact with ancient civilization. Greek and Roman jewellery help to evaluate the sentiments of people who lived in ancient society. The pieces of jewellery made by Greek and Roman craftsmen provide a deep insight into individual beliefs, values and aspirations. In other words, jewellery can be viewed as a significant part of the evidence that has survived from ancient civilizations. Roman jewellery had certain characteristics of Greek jewellery, although there were many individual styles reflected in the designs of various pieces of jewellery.


Works Cited

Chandra, R. G. Indo-Greek Jewellery. Abhinav Publications, 1979. Print.

Higgins, R. A. Greek and Roman Jewellery. University of California Press, 1961. Print.

Pinckernelle, Kathia.  “The Iconography of Ancient Greek and Roman Jewellery,” Thesis. University of Glasgow. 2007.  Available from:<>

Ogden, Jack. Ancient Jewellery. University of California Press, 1992. Print.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: January 20, 2022] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]
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