Jewellery: Wealth and Power
The development of the Ancient Greek civilization brought the first great use of jewellery, which was seen as a symbol of power and a way to express wealth. Jewellery was also used for amuletic and religious purposes. After the arrival of metallurgy, the Greeks began to create increasingly complex designs to reflect and represent the wealth and power of Greek nobility.
Mesopotamian and Egyptian Traditions
Greek goldsmiths and artisans inherited their techniques from Egypt and Mesopotamia; however, they managed to create and develop a unique style. Gold became the primary decorative material, although silver, lead, bronze and electrum were also used. Skilled artisans worked the gold in thin leaves, combining it with precious and semi-precious stones, such as amethysts, pearls, carnelians, garnets and emeralds, to create beautifully modelled necklaces, pendants, rings and earrings.
Classic and Hellenistic Greece
It was, however, with the advent of the Golden Age of Greece, when Hellenic culture blossomed, that Greek jewellery reached its high water mark. The reign of Alexander the Great saw an enormous influx of gold and precious stones from the Orient, providing the core resources to produce items of incredible splendour. This era was brought to an end when the Roman Empire took control of Greece in the 2nd century BC, bringing many drastic and dramatic changes in jewellery style.