Roman Gold & Pearl Sunburst Earrings

£ 1,395.00

A pair of beautiful ancient Roman gold earrings with pearl pendants. Each earring consists of a sheet of gold forming a large sunburst concave disc, recessed in the centre and set with a pearl. The border is decorated with wire-work, in a herringbone pattern. The edge is set with further ornamentation, consisting of triangular granules interspersed evenly. Beneath the disc is a trapezoid cross bar, supporting three pendants. The outer two are formed from dangling, wound wire, finished with another pearl. The central pendant is similarly styled, yet features an additional garnet inlay, set in a gold frame, which sits just above the pearl. Long hooks are attached to the reverse, although these are now closed. A beautiful set distinctive of the 3rd century AD.

Date: Circa 3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex Alison Barker collection, retired Barrister-at-law, acquired 1970s-2000s. Ex Cambridge private collection.
Condition: Very good condition. Original pearls and stones still attached. Slightly misshapen pendants due to age. Can be worn with care. Earrings would need to be attached to additional studs or hooks.
Product Code: RES-229
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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).

Earrings of this kind were known as ‘crotalia’ (from the Greek word for ‘rattle’ or ‘castanets’) because the hanging pendants would produce a sweet jingling noise when worn. They were extremely popular with Roman ladies, across the whole of the Roman Empire and through multiple centuries. Numerous physical examples have been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum, whilst mummy portraits from Romano-Egypt also depict women wearing the delicate earrings.

To discover more about jewellery in the Roman Empire, please see our relevant blog post: Jewellery In Antiquity.

Weight 5.3 g
Dimensions L 4.2 x W 1.7 cm



Southern Europe

Semi-Precious Stone

Garnet, Pearl

Reference: For Similar: Bonhams Auction House, London, Antiquities, 26th October 2007, lot 99

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