During the Roman Empire, jewellery became quickly a fundamental and essential social display of wealth. Following the spread of the Roman Empire, Roman jewellery became more and more elaborate in the designs and in the materials used. Semi-precious gemstones, or glass beads, were used to enrich and embellish earrings, rings and necklaces. 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.
Earrings of this kind were known as ‘crotalia’ (from the Greek word for ‘rattle’ or ‘castanets’) because the pearl pendants would produce a jingling noise when worn. They were extremely popular with Roman ladies, and numerous examples have been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum.
To discover more about jewellery in the Roman Empire, please see our relevant blog post: Jewellery In Antiquity.