ONE of the constants through human history has been our love for jewellery and accessories.
Whether that’s pre-historic seashell necklaces or medieval jewels. Victorian brooches or modern-day diamond earrings. Then as well as now, jewellery can represent its wearer and finish an outfit. Understandably, many of us put a lot of care and time into choosing the jewellery we purchase and it can be hard to find something that feels like exactly the right fit. An avenue people don’t always consider is searching out ancient jewellery for unique pieces with a story to tell.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN ANCIENT JEWELLERY?
We really do mean ancient! With bronze age pendants through to necklaces of faith made during the Crusades. Ancient peoples highly valued their jewellery and therefore the pieces were likely to be well preserved. Experts then restore the pieces, so they’re ready for you to wear. However, unlike modern jewellery they offer you so much more than just sparkle.
WHY ANCIENT JEWELLERY?
Every piece is unique.
No matter how expensive a piece of modern jewellery, it’s unlikely a piece is one off. On the contrary, ancient Jewellery was often made bespoke for individuals. Of course, ancient societies – especially Rome – had their own version of mass production. The manufactured items found to. They’re also likely to be very different to those other pieces due to the heavy involvement of individual craftsmen.
The design of the ancient pieces is timeless and does not rely on fashions or trends. Their unique beauty will always be appreciated.
Each piece has a story.
Ancient jewellery is more than just that, they’re historical artefacts. They tell us stories of the people who wore them, the societies they were made in and how they travelled through history to be worn by you today! Take a Roman necklace with a beautiful blue intaglio with a menorah for example. It tells us about wealthy Jewish communities that lived in the Roman Empire. Or a gold Celtic Torc. It tells us the owner was wealthy and spiritually respected. This is because gold was used to represent one of the highest Celtic religious symbols, the sun.
When you wear these pieces, they aren’t only stunning but also tell important stories. They become talking pieces and prompts for historical discovery. In the past, jewellery demonstrated status, expressed beliefs, brought good fortune and simply, looked good! Roman women’s jewellery was one of the few items they could truly claim as their own and not their family’s. Therefore, when they chose to wear a lot of jewellery it showed not only their tastes but also their personal wealth. It’s incredible to wear a Roman piece knowing it was once owned by such a woman. Similarly, some of the Viking rings have symbols of strength from Norse Mythology. These symbols were to invite courage in battle and display to others their ferociousness. Again, it’s amazing to think you could put on a ring in the morning that a warrior would have worn for battle.
Each piece is of great quality.
When you purchase a piece of ancient jewellery, you know that the piece has survived thousands of years! Craftsmen in the past would have assured its quality and modern restorers just ensure time has not ruined this!
Each piece is an investment.
As we’ve said, ancient jewellery is timeless. This is not only in its beauty but also its worth. Often made of precious metals and stones, the craftsmanship paired with their stories make them always desirable items to own or collect. This means if you feel after a while your jewellery could have a better home or from the very beginning, want ways to invest your capital in tangible ways you can enjoy – ancient jewellery is for you. Its value stays fairly stable and is likely to even go up.
Viking silver twisted neck torc
Bronze Age carnelian and bronze necklace
WHAT KIND OF ANCIENT JEWELLERY IS AVAILABLE?
From plain bands, to twisted torcs and embellished bracelets, men and women in the past demonstrated their status through this type of jewellery. Many ancient cultures wore torcs, most infamously by the Celts who wore them to show rank. In the few Celtic statues we have, a high proportion of the figures are wearing torcs. Later, they were popular with the Vikings and are the clearest ancient jewellery example of Northern European culture.
Piercing your ears for earrings was very common throughout the ancient world, especially along the Mediterranean. Particularly, Roman women were known for their love of earrings. Indeed, the Roman historian Pliny commented that Roman women spent more money on their ears than anywhere else. However Byzantine craftsmen took this tradition of earring creation to the next level. Creating intricately coiled gold earrings adorned with stones such as garnets and pearls. Indeed, gold jewellery was a common piece of everyday wear. Why was this you ask? Within the boundaries of their empire they had lots of different gold mining regions.
Roman gold twisted earrings
Necklaces may have survived as just the pendant or fully intact. Either way, ancient necklaces are often wearable today. Sometimes, these necklaces include ancient amulets – like an Egyptian Eye of Horus. Of course, they could also be completely decorative such as a gold Roman filigree pendant.
There’s evidence of people wearing finger rings from as early as the 3rd Millennium BC in the Indus River Valley. Since then they have remained popular in many periods of time, often representing loyalties of betrothal, marriage and family. It’s worth noting that consistently throughout history, rings have been seen as gender neutral. Therefore, they’ve been created in a wide range of shapes and styles to reflect that.
All of the ancient artefacts included in this article have been offered for auction by Apollo. Many are sold but please get in touch is you’re interested in purchasing similar pieces from us by emailing [email protected].