A Brief History of Roman Jewelry to Date

A Brief History of Roman Jewelry to Date

Can you think of any ancient civilization that has influenced jewelry design as much as Rome? From heavy signet rings to delicate brooches, Roman jewelry has remained beautiful and fashionable throughout history. It is perpetually current, and you need it as a staple in your jewelry box. 

In fact, some of the most iconic pieces of jewelry originated in this glorious civilization. Below, we lay out the history of Roman jewelry. 

Roman Jewelry for Men

In Roman times, wearing rings denoted your status and men would wear one or two rings, along with bracelets, pendants, and torcs. In 361 BC the emperor Titus Manlius challenged an opponent to a fight. When he won the bout, he tore off his opponent’s torc and wore it as a trophy. 

The signet ring has origins in ancient Rome. These large rings would have the crest, emblem, or rank of a man engraved on them. They would then seal important letters with wax and dip the ring into it, to show the letters official nature. 

Jewelry for Women

Women from all social strata would have a collection of roman fashion jewelry, that they would use to decorate their outfits. While Roman jewelry started out very simple, by the third and fourth centuries it had become extremely elaborate. Rings, bracelets, brooches, necklaces, and pendants would often adorn the same outfit at once. 

Many of these designs are still used today in exquisite pieces. Websites such as Romadesignerjewelry.com blend classic motifs with modern twists for very unique looks. 

What Materials Were Used?

Any material that was available to the Romans could get used in the craft of jewelry. Roman glass jewelry and wood pieces existed alongside rare materials like gold and silver. Stones from the Mediterranean area along with the occasional import from India and Persia decorated them.

Scientific studies on Roman jewelry have traced the materials back to some places very far outside their empire. Stones from the Far East and Pakistan have appeared in some items.

Where Did Designs Come From?

As the Roman empire grew, the influences on its art and crafts became more widespread. Being close to North Africa, the kingdom of Egypt with its long history of design and jewelry, was a huge influence on Rome. They were also neighbors with the kingdom of Greece, and as well as many similarities in beliefs and religion, art, and design concepts were often shared. 

Types of Jewelry

In addition to the items mentions, Romans had a lot of very unique pieces of jewelry. One of these was the amulet, which was a sack that hung on a string or chain. The sack was used to protect children against bad spirits such as the mark of the evil eye. 

The brooch was also an iconic piece of Roman jewelry. They would prefer to clasp clothing together with beautiful brooches instead of stitching them. These clothing brooches were known as fibula and would be adorned with stone and cameo portraits. 

Modern Jewelry

Many of these designs and trends can be seen in modern jewelry. In fact, Roman jewelry is undergoing a style renaissance that you should consider using to accessorize your next outfit. 

If you enjoyed this article, then be sure to visit our blog. We have many more interesting and informative articles on fashion and beauty to keep you up-to-date with this season’s new look. 

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About the Author: Wayne Probert

Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.