Cameo Crystal Brooch

Cameo Crystal Brooch

The Ancient Greeks were aficionados of jewelry, wearing simple to complex jewelry often complemented with effigies of the Greek Gods Eros, Nike, Artemis, Isis and Aphrodite. Mycenae, the ancient Grecian city ruled by King Agamemnon, was the center for jewelry production in the 2nd millennium B.C. The Mycenaeans created jewelry of beads in the shape of animals and shells, gold, amethyst, emeralds, pearls, agate and other semi-precious stones in the evolution of their jewelry production from 1,400 BC- 300 BC.

The Greeks created the cameo, produced by using an agate stone striated with pink, cream or brown also called Indian Sardonyx. As jewelry design and techniques became more complex, they developed a laurel wreath to be worn as a crown of honor by scholars and heroes, sacred laurel leaves represented Apollo, the god of prophecy and intellect. Pendant earrings bedecked with Nike, Eros or dove figurines became popular fashion of the times. Pendants in the shape of Amphorae (the classic two-handled vase shape) ornamented with enamel or gemstones, hung by a rosette and capped with the crown of Isis. Spherical or wide chains of gold were worn as necklaces with hanging calyxes or fruit and clasps of animal heads or dolphins. The Greeks were fond of wearing gold wreaths as ornamental headdresses, elaborately decorated with flowers, acorns, foliage or images of Eros and Nike. Greek gold rings were set with gemstones or sealstones (containing an engraving used for seals).

After the fall of Greece by Alexander the GreatÂ’s viscious conquest, the Hellenistic age begins, dating 330-27BC. Jewelry of this time was influenced by the Far East and Egypt, initiating new fashions, tastes and styles not only in jewelry design but overall aesthetics of life. Gold became the dominating metal accompanied by gemstones such as amethyst, cornelian, garnet, rock crystal and chalcedony during Hellenic rule.

Etruscan jewelry, highly influenced by Greek culture, produced a large amount of intricate and ornate jewelry styles that further influenced the Romans. The Etruscans developed granulation (where the surface of gold was soldered with tiny grains of gold to create a delicate pattern) dated to the 7th century BC. By the end of the Etruscan Period, as they were absorbed by the Roman Empire in the 3rd century BC, the ornate designs were replaced by more austere qualities and filigree (fine wire work with silver or gold) was utilized. The Phoenicians contributed colorful beads, inlay and enameling. Rings of this period included a scarab or single set gemstones in an oval formation set in an engraved bezel.

As the Romans came to power the craftsmanship of jewelry included many natural resources found in the vast regions of the Mediterranean and European continents. Romans invented the brooch which was used primarily for holding robes together. Gold continued to figure prominently and hemispheres constructed into bracelets, earrings and necklaces came into fashion. Bronze, pearls, bone, emerald and glass beads were used, complementing the gold settings. Although early Roman jewelry style borrowed from established Greek and Etruscan design, new motifs such as the Heracles knot (two loops intertwined) with an apotropaic figurine for averting evil spirits or bad luck was introduced. In 330BC, hoop earrings became fashionable with finial elements of animal heads, figure of Eros, maenads and negroes. Cameo portraits on rings and pendants and coiled gold snake-shaped bracelets made an appearance at this time. Upper class women of Roman times wore extensive amounts of jewelry and men were expected to adorn themselves with a minimum of one ring, made of gold or carved stone including a seal stone for wax-sealing important documents.

Eric Hartwell is involved in The World’s Best Home Page (please visit to read and share opinions) and Jewels To Love

Cameo Crystal Brooch
Cameo Crystal Brooch
Cameo Crystal Brooch

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