Roman Gold Pendants

Roman Gold Pendants


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A Search for a Lost Hammer Led to the Largest Cache of Roman Treasure Ever Found in Britain

When Eric Lawes set off for a field in Hoxne village, Suffolk on November 16, 1992, it wasn’t on a treasure hunt. The metal detector he’d received as a retirement gift was meant to find a hammer lost on the farmland. But the detector picked up a strong signal in the earth, leading Lawes to start digging, and it quickly became apparent that he had indeed found treasure.

After bringing up only a few shovelfuls of silver spoons and gold coins, Lawes quickly retreated and called the police and the local archaeological society. The very next day, as covertly as possible, the archaeologists excavated a chunk of earth with the treasure still contained within. This way, they could remove the objects under laboratory conditions, which would help determine the age and storage method of the cache. By the time everything had been removed from the dirt, the archaeologists had nearly 60 pounds of gold and silver objects, including 15,234 Roman coins, dozens of silver spoons and 200 gold objects.

Lawes received ٟ.75 million from the British government for finding the gold and leaving it intact, which he split with the farmer on whose land the hoard was uncovered (he also eventually found the hammer, which later went on exhibit). As for archaeologists, they had their own reward: of the 40 treasure hoards discovered in Britain, the Hoxne Hoard was “the largest and latest ever found in Britain,” says Rachel Wilkinson. The project curator for Romano-British collections at the British Museum, where the artifacts reside, Wilkinson says the unique way this hoard was excavated, compared to how most are retrieved by farmers plowing their field, makes it invaluable.

In the 25 years since the unearthing of the Hoxne hoard, researchers have used the objects to learn more about one of Britain’s most turbulent periods: the island’s separation from the Roman Empire in 410 A.D.

The prancing tiger was once the handle of a large vase or amphora, discovered in the Hoxne Hoard in 1992. (British Museum)

The end of the fourth century A.D. was an unsettled time for the Roman Empire. The territory stretched across the entirety of the Mediterranean world, including all of the land that would come to be Italy, Spain, Greece and France and large chunks of North Africa, Turkey and Britain. Under Emperor Theodosius, Christianity became the sole religion of the empire, while all other belief systems became illegal, a dramatic change after centuries of polytheism. And while parts of the Empire continued to thrive, the Western Roman Empire was deteriorating. Gothic warriors won battles and killed leaders like Emperor Valens, and in 410 the Visigoths (nomadic Germanic peoples) sacked Rome. Meanwhile, Roman subjects in Britain were left to fend for themselves against raiders from Scotland and Ireland, having lost the support of Roman soldiers even before the separation from the Empire.

“The years from the later fourth century to 450, the period including the British hoarding peak, witnessed numerous invasions into the [mainland Europe] Empire by Germanic and Hunnic groups often followed by largescale devastation and disruption,” writes Roman archaeologist Peter Guest, the author of The Late Roman Gold and Silver coins from the Hoxne Treasure.

This level of societal upheaval has led to the “hoards equal hordes” hypothesis. Basically, Romano-British citizens who no longer had the protection of the Roman Empire were so terrified of the raiding Saxons, Angles, Picts and others that they buried their most valuable belongings. According to an entry from 418 in the 9th-century text Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, “In this year the Romans collected all the treasures which were in Britain and hid some in the earth so that no one afterwards could find them, and some they took with them into Gaul.”

For all their fears of “barbarians,” the Romano-British weren’t only the only people in the Roman Empire to experience upheaval—yet nowhere else have hoards been discovered in as dense of numbers as in Britain. Could there be an alternate explanation for why some wealthy family buried so much gold in the ground?

Because no organic materials survived in the Hoxne hoard, radiocarbon can’t be used as a dating technique. Instead, archaeologists use the age of coins, which they arrive it by looking at inscriptions on the coin as well as the ruler depicted on its face.

“The date after which Hoxne must’ve been buried is 408 or 409 [based on the age of the coins] and the traditional model would suggest it was buried around about that point in time,” Guest said in an interview with Smithsonian.com. “My perspective is that actually we’ve been misdating these hoards. If you look at them a little more carefully, then they should be dated to the period after the separation of Britain from the Roman Empire.”

A series of gold bracelets, one with an inscription to Juliane, all found in the Hoxne Hoard in 1992. (British Museum)

Guest argues that the coins may have been in circulation around Britain for decades after the Roman Empire removed its influence from the island. One bit of evidence he offers for this hypothesis is a practice called clipping. Of the more than 15,000 coins in the Hoxne cache, 98 percent are clipped—bits of their edges have been removed, reducing their size by as much as a third. Based on chemical analyses, Guest and others have found that the metal removed from those coins was used to make imitation Roman coins that remained in circulation for longer.

“The Roman Emperor wasn’t supplying Britain with new gold and silver coins, and in light of that, the population tried to get over this sudden cutoff in the supply of precious metals by making the existing supplies go further,” Guest said.

But part of the value of the Hoxne hoard is that it contains more than just a massive quantity of coins. In The Hoxne Late Roman Treasure: Gold Jewelry and Silver Plate, archaeologist Catherine Johns speculates that the Roman family to whom the treasure belonged kept them as sentimental objects.

This suggestion is possible thanks to an analysis of not just what was in the hoard, but also how it was hoarded. Surrounding the coins and gold objects were nails, hinges, locks, scraps of wood, bone and ivory. Some of the objects were packed with straw, while others were placed in smaller, leather-lined wood boxes. Some of the items revealed significant wear, such as the silver handle in the shape of a tiger that had been detached from its vase, and the damaged pepper pots. All these details imply the stash might have been buried with care rather than being hurriedly hidden. And they also offer archaeologists plenty of fodder for theories about life for a wealthy family at the turn of the fifth century.

Take the dozens of silver spoons, for example. Some of them are worn down and show evidence of being repaired. Others are marked with words, including names (Aurelius Ursicinus and Silvicola) and a Latin phrase (vivas in deo). And while most of the spoons are inscribed to be read from a right-handed position, one spoon looks as if it was made for a leftie.

The silver pepper pot is hollowed out, in the shape of a noble lady. At the base the pot can be turned to three sittings, one closed, one with small holes for sprinkling, and one open for filling the pot with ground pepper. (British Museum)

Or look at the pepper pot, selected by the BBC as one of 100 objects to tell the story of the history of the world. The silver pot is molded in the shape of a noble woman, with holes in the base of the object for pepper to be shaken out. Not only does the pot tell us the owners engaged in international trade—pepper had to be shipped and purchased from India—but it also reveals details about women’s fashion. As Johns writes for the BBC, “The most striking aspect of the lady’s appearance is her intricate hairstyle. It would have required very long, thick hair and the attentions of a skilled hairdresser to create,” and included decorative pins arranged to look like a tiara.

Even the jewelry reveals tiny glimpses of what life may have looked like for women. There’s a gold body chain for an adolescent girl, several rings missing their gemstones, and multiple bracelets, including one with the inscription utere felix domina Iuliane—“use this and be happy, Lady Juliane.”

“Were Aurelius and Juliane the owners of the treasure, or perhaps their ancestors? We do not know,” writes Kenneth Lapatin in the Times Literary Supplement. “These people remain ciphers to us and, unlike their possessions, are largely irrecoverable.”

Archaeology is a field that often requires making inferences. The Hoxne hoard offers tantalizing slivers of the past without enough detail to allow for definitive answers. Even something as simple as when the treasure was buried currently remains unknowable. “You can’t prove or disprove either of these two positions,” Guest said of the hypothesis that the treasure was buried at the end of the Roman Empire in Britain or in the years after the end. “The dating of material culture to produce our chronologies and the difficulty of that goes back a long way in archaeology.”

But even surrounded by unanswered questions, the Hoxne treasure is an irresistible collection that tells a dramatic story: the end of one empire, the earliest days of what would eventually become another empire. And whatever else it might provide archaeologists, it also provides the public with a happy ending—sometimes you find buried treasure when you least expect it.


Contents

While much emphasis is placed on fine gold and silver pieces of antiquated jewelry, many pieces worn by lower social classes in Rome would have been made out of bronze or other less expensive metals. Gold and silver pieces would have been worn by the wealthy. Unlike ancient Greek jewelers, Roman manufacturers would have dealt primarily with mass-produced pieces created using molds and casting techniques. [2] This allowed more people to afford such accessories.

Roman aesthetic values led to the increased use of precious and semi-precious gemstones as well as colored glass in jewelry. Ostentatious and creative use of color was valued over fine metalwork. Glass makers were supposedly so skilled that they could fool the public into thinking that glass beads and ornaments were actually gemstones. [3] When genuine gems were utilized, the stones preferred by Roman women were amethyst, emerald, and pearl. [4]

The focus on showiness and imitation of fine materials demonstrates the fact that Romans were highly conscious of how they presented themselves in public. [1] While living, Roman men and women frequently used ornamentation of their houses and bodies to demonstrate wealth, power, influence, and knowledge.

Gender Edit

As with many societies, ancient Roman accessorizing varied along boundaries of gender and age, in addition to social standing.

Women Edit

Roman women collected and wore more jewelry than men. Women usually had pierced ears, in which they would wear one set of earrings. Additionally, they would adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, rings, and fibula. One choker-style necklace, two bracelets, and multiple rings would be worn at once. Jewelry was particularly important to women because it was considered to be their own property, which could be kept independently of their husband's wealth and used as the women saw fit. They had the right to buy, sell, bequeath, or barter their own jewelry. [4]

Men Edit

Typically Roman men wore less jewelry than their female counterparts. Finger rings and fibulae were the most common forms of jewelry worn by men, but they would also sometimes wear pendants. Roman men, unlike Greek men, wore multiple rings at once. [4]

Children Edit

Roman children's jewelry served special purposes, especially in the form of amulets. These were worn draped around the neck, and had specialized purposes to protect the children from illness and misfortune. [4] For example, a phallic fascinus was commonly placed on or near a young boy to ward off the evil forces.

Beyond accessories Edit

Collections of jewelry represented great wealth and power to the Roman owners. The use of this jewelry was not limited to simply wearing it, but also extended to spiritual purposes. Hoards of gold, silver, and bronze jewelry have been found at Greek and Roman temples, providing evidence that worshipers would have offered some of their jewelry to the god or goddess of the temple, much as they would have offered other objects. [4]



Roman Gold Pendants - History

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At the Museum of Jewelry, we keep the hand-crafted arts alive. Every museum creation is an original work of art. Each piece of jewelry is handmade by master artisans from historical designs - each earring shaped, detailed and embellished using the same age-old techniques as have goldsmiths and lapidaries through the ages.

Every piece of jewelry features natural, ethically sourced gemstones. As with all hand-made jewelry, our pieces and stones may have slight variations and natural inclusions.

We hope you enjoy your journey through history here at the Museum of Jewelry.

Subscribe to The MuseLetter and save 10% on your first order. View archive.

1500 East Juana Ave.
San Leandro, CA 94577 USA
_____________________


Roman Gold Pendants - History

At the Museum of Jewelry, we keep the hand-crafted arts alive. Every museum creation is an original work of art. Each piece of jewelry is handmade by master artisans from historical designs - each earring shaped, detailed and embellished using the same age-old techniques as have goldsmiths and lapidaries through the ages.

Every piece of jewelry features natural, ethically sourced gemstones. As with all hand-made jewelry, our pieces and stones may have slight variations and natural inclusions.

We hope you enjoy your journey through history here at the Museum of Jewelry.

Subscribe to The MuseLetter and save 10% on your first order. View archive.

1500 East Juana Ave.
San Leandro, CA 94577 USA
_____________________


Roman Gold Pendants - History

Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Nice bronze crucifix set in modern custom sterling silver bezel. Depicts Christ upon the cross. 40x24 mm (1 1/2" x 7/8") without the hoop. Cross with nice dark bronze patina. #JM2057: $399 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-12th century AD. Very large bronze reliquary cross (half). Depicts Christ with arms upraised Orans, wearing long robes. H: 67 mm (2 9/16"), all suspension loops intact, black patina. Incredible detail! #JM2270: $375 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, 8th-12th century AD. Large bronze cross. H: 50 mm (2 inches) with great green patina, thick and robust suspension loop. #JM2226: $175
SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 8th-11th century AD. Small bronze cross engraved with a "cross-within-cross" design. Suspension loop lost in antiquity. Brassy/olive-green patina. H: 31 mm
(1 1/4"). #JM2273: $65 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with ornate design and 5 raised pellets indicating the "Five Wounds of Christ". H: 26 mm (1 1/16"). Black patina, suspension loop intact. #JM2258: $125 SOLD
Medieval/Crusades Europe, c. 9th-14th century AD. Great lead Pilgtim's Cross amulet. Worn by pilgrims from Europe to the Holy Land and back. Nice "radiant" inner-cross design. Holed-through at top. 37 mm (1 3/8"), with gray patina, light earthen deposits. ex-Tom Cederlind estate. #JM2242: $225 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Nice bronze cross, set in custom .925 silver bezel. Depicts Christ with arms upraised "orans". 4 cm (1 1/2") without the hoop. Cross with deep olive-green patina, original suspension loop lost in antiquity. #JM2288: $499 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, 8th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross. H: 28 mm (1 1/16") with circular decorations at the terminals, traces of a silver inlay at center. Suspension loop worn but intact. #JM2228: $125 SOLD
Viking Europe, c. 8th-12th century AD. Great bronze cross pendant, with a central small cross and terminals decorated with "Runic" designs. H: 32 mm (1 1/4"), with nice olive-green patina, darker than photo. Suspension loop intact. ex-London, UK gallery. #JM2286: $299 SOLD

Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Beautiful bronze reliquary cross (half). Christ with arms outstretched, small cross above His head. 45 mm
(1 3/4"), top loop intact. Olive-green patina, earthen deposits. #JM2210: $250 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. HUGE bronze reliquary cross (half). Christ with arms outstretched, small cross above His head. 76 mm (3 inches!), both suspension loops intact. High-relief detail, glossy olive-green patina, light earthen deposits. Ex-David Liebert, The Time Machine, NY. #JM2353: $275 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 6th-8th century AD. Bronze cross pendant. "Latin" cross form, decorated with punched-dot "Five Wounds of Christ" dotted design. Glossy dark olive-green patina, suspension loop intact. H: 35 mm (1 3/8"). Ex-Berkeley, CA collection. #JM2339: $250 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 6th-8th century AD. Excellent large bronze cross pendant. Heavily decorated with punched-dot "Five Wounds of Christ" dotted design, dotted accents at terminals. Glossy dark olive-green patina, suspension loop intact but worn somewhat thin from use. H: 49 mm (1 15/16"). Ex-Berkeley, CA collection. Gorgeous! #JM2343: $275 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 6th-8th century AD. Excellent bronze cross pendant. Heavily decorated with punched-dot "Five Wounds of Christ" dotted design, dotted accents at terminals. Glossy dark olive-green to reddish patina, suspension loop intact and quite wide. H: 37 mm (1 7/16"). Ex-Berkeley, CA collection. Gorgeous! #JM2340: $325 SOLD Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Incredible 2-sided bronze cross set in custom .925 silver bezel. One side depicts Christ with arms outstretched, the other with the Virfin Mary with arms upraised Orans. 34 mm (1 3/8") tall without the hoop. A stunning, one of a kind piece! #JM2197: $599 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Excellent large bronze cross set in custom .925 silver bezel. Depicts Christ with arms outstretched. 40 mm (1 1/2") tall without the hoop. #JM2107: $550 SOLD

Biblical Judaea. Famous "Poor Widow's Mite" of the Bible, struck c. 103-76 BC, circulated during the time of Christ. Large bronze prutah, set into a gorgeous custom silver cross pendant. Bezel diameter 5/8", cross measures 2 3/8" x 1 5/8" including loop. Fantastic detail! An excellent, wearable piece of Christian history. #JN2244: $399 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 8th-11th century AD. Great bronze cross, with "cross-within-cross" incised design, small circular element at center. H: 44 mm (1 3/4"), suspension loop intact. Smooth dark brassy-green patina. ex Los Angeles collection. #JM2427: $275 SOLD
Holy Land, c. 7th-8th century AD. Great Byzantine bronze cross pendant. The central recess once held a gem or stone. H: 36mm (1 3/8'). Olive-green patina, light earthen deposits, suspension loop intact. #JM2397: $299 SOLD
Medieval Armenia, time of the Crusades. King Hetoum I, 1226-1270 AD. Large copper Tank, set into custom silver bezel. Cross with 4 lines, Armenian inscription: "Struck in the City of Sis" / King seated on throne holding globus cruciger & fleur-de-lis, "Hetoum King of the Armenians." ref: Nercessian 351-357. Large 33mm (1 1/4") diameter. Holed in antiquity to be worn as a pendant! Dark coppery patina, great detail. Coin ex Robin Danziger, NY. #CA2156: $299 SOLD
Medieval Armenia, time of the Crusades. King Hetoum I, 1226-1270 AD. Large copper Tank, set into custom silver bezel. King seated on throne holding globus cruciger & fleur-de-lis, Hetoum King of the Armenians / Cross with 4 lines, Struck in the City of Sis. ref: Nercessian 351-357. 28 mm diameter. Nice coppery patina, great detail. #CA2152: $199 SOLD
Crusaders, Holy Land, c. 13th -14th century AD. RARE bronze cross-shaped hook, used for spur leather. The cross at center small and flat with squared edges, thin twisted bronze hooked-loop at one end, thicker bronze loop at the other. Glossy black patina. Found in the Holy Land! An incredibly rare find. H: 44mm (1 1/2"). ex-NJ estate collection. #JM2419: SOLD
A nice and very large Byzantine bronze cross, c. 8th-12th Century AD, made from sheet bronze, the face decorated with incised circles and surmounted by a small suspension loop. H: 2 3/4" (6.8cm), W: 1 7/8 (4.6cm). Well-preserved and nicely patinated. Ex New York City private collection. #JM2479: $450 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 8th-11th century AD. Interesting bronze cross pendant. A snake-like design down the center, rounded ends to the terminals with small "X's". H: 32mm (1 1/4"), dark green patina, suspension loop intact. #JM2459: $250 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with a central engraved "X". H: 23 mm (15/16"), with dark blue-green patina, suspension loop intact. #JM2392: $125 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Bronze reliquary cross (half). H: 44 mm (1 3/4"). Suspension loops missing, slightly bent in antiquity. Olive-green patina, earthen deposits. #JM2253: $99 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Neat Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. The front with a tall ornate Russian Orthodox cross, Latin inscription around the other with Cyrillic text within a central cross. L: 30mm, suspension loop intact. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2438: $125 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with a bust. H: 29 mm (1 1/8"), dark reddish to olive-green patina, suspension loop intact but worn thin. #JM2378: $150 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 6th-9th century AD. Large bronze cross. The surface decorated with the "Five Wounds of Christ" dotted design, two suspension loops at top. Olive-green patina, earthen deposits. H: 5 cm (just under 2 inches). ex-David Liebert, The Time Machine, NY. #JM2368: $275 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 8th-12th century AD. Great bronze cross pendant. Both sides engraved with "cross-within-cross" design. Slightly bent in antiquity. H: 33mm with robust suspension loop, great green patina. #JM2471: $199 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Large bronze reliquary cross (half). Depicts Christ with arms upraised "orans", wearing long robes. Both top suspension loops intact! H: 73 mm (2 7/8") including loops. Olive-green patina, light earthen deposits. Nice large cross with high-relief detail! #JM2282: $425 SOLD Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Incredible gold cross pendant. With central red stone or glass inlay surrounded with "braided" gold raised circular design, fine raised looped elements on the extremeties. H: 30 mm (1 3/16"), weighs 2.85 grams. Suspension loop intact. Perfectly preserved! ex-Tom Cederlind, Portland, OR. #JM2233: SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-12th century AD. Fantastic and absolutely HUGE bronze cross! Half of a reliquary/encolpion cross, heavily decorated with Christ with arms outstretched, busts of saints or Apostles to sides, plaque, the sun and moon above His head. Inscriptions in greek below His arms. Suspension loop intact. H: 9 CM (3 1/2 inches!). Olive-green/grey patina with light earthen deposits. Excellent, high-relief detail! A marvelous display-piece, much better in-hand! #JM2261: $499 SOLD

Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Great bronze cross pendant. One side depicts Christ upon the cross, the other with a central tall cross, Latin inscription around. Ornate terminals, suspension loop intact. Dark brassy tone. H: 32 mm (1 5/16"). Ex-Thomas Bentley Cederlind estate, Portland, OR. #JM2250: $125 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Exceptional bronze reliquary cross pendant. One side depicts Christ with arms outstretched, the other side depicting Christ with arms upraised Orans. Intact with original suspension loop at top. Still sealed, with bottom pin still in place! H: 57 mm (2 1/4") including loop. Olive-green patina. #JM2271: $399 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Exceptional bronze reliquary cross pendant. One side depicts Christ with arms outstretched, small cross above His head, the other side with the Virgin Mary, arms upraised Orans, cross above. Nicely incised textural details. Greek inscriptions below both of their arms. With original suspension loop at top. Bottom loop missing, still opens! (click for expanded photo). HL 59 mm (2 5/16"), shiny dark brass to deep red patina. Incredible detail! #JM2267: $499 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Exceptional bronze reliquary cross pendant. One side depicts Christ with arms outstretched, the other side depicting Christ with arms upraised Orans. Intact with original suspension loop at top. Still sealed, with bottom pin still in place! H: 69 mm (2 1/4") including loop. Glossy olive-green patina. Neat stylized depictions! #JM2272: $399 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Nice bronze cross set in custom .925 silver bezel. 30mm (1 1/8") without the hoop. Cross with deep olive-green patina. #JM2191: $399 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Nice bronze cross set in custom .925 silver bezel. 42mm (1 5/8") tall without the hoop. Cross with linear and circular designs, olive-green patina. #JM2214: $425 SOLD
Medieval/Crusader Europe, c. 12th-14th century AD. Incredible and very rare Crusader cross pendant! A reliquary cross - a two-pieced cross that once held within it a relic of a saint or martyr. With original suspension loop and wire wrap at top. Bottom loop missing, still opens! (click for expanded photo). Center of both sides once held a silver or stone inlay. H: 5 cm (2 inches) including loop. Olive-green patina. Excellent! #JM2262: $750 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Bronze cross pendant, decorated with "cross-within-cross" design, small Latin cross at center. H: 42 mm (1 11/16"), great green patina under earthen deposits. #JM2264: $225 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with a "cross-within-cross" design. H: 27 mm (1 1/16"), glossy black patina, suspension loop intact. ex-London, UK gallery. #JM2327: $199 SOLD
Roman Egypt, c. 4th - 6th Century AD. Gorgeous Coptic bone cross pendant. Well carved with suspension loop at top. Nice light brown patina. H: 22 mm. Ex H. Sakr collection, originally acquired in the 1960's-1970's. The oldest cross type!
#JM2170: $175 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 9th-12th century AD. Great bronze cross, with ornamented terminals and both sides decorated with nice incised "cross-within-cross" design with central circular device. 57x35 mm (2 1/4" x 1 3/8")! Golden brassy patina, suspension loop intact. #JM2218: $275 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Thick and heavy bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with a facing bust, likely depicting Christ and the Virgin Mary. Very interesting! H: 37 mm (1 7/16"), olive-green patina. Suspension loop intact and robust. Ex-London, UK gallery. #JM2299: $250 SOLD

Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. Huge bronze reliquary cross (half). Depicts Christ with arms outstretched, wearing long robes, small cross above His head, IC-XC below His arms. Suspension loops intact! H: 69 mm (2 3/4 inches)! Olive-green patina, heavy earthen deposits. ex-Austrian collection. Better than photo! #JM2406: $275 SOLD
Biblical Judaea. Famous "Poor Widow's Mite" of the Bible, struck c. 103-76 BC, circulated during the time of Christ. Large bronze prutah, set into a gorgeous custom silver cross pendant. Bezel diameter 5/8", cross measures 2 3/8" x 1 5/8" including loop. Fantastic detail! An excellent, wearable piece of Christian history. #JN2248: $399 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Neat Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. The front with a tall ornate Russian Orthodox cross, initials of Christ above the other with 11 lines of Cyrillic text. L: 35mm, suspension loop intact. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2434: $175 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Neat Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. The front with a tall ornate Russian Orthodox cross, Latin inscription around the other with Cyrillic text within a central cross. L: 38mm, thick intact suspension loop. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2439: $125 SOLD Byzantine Empire, 8th-11th century AD. Nice bronze cross. Depicts Christ with arms outstretched. Nice olive-green patina. 37 mm (1 7/16"). #JM2135: $250 SOLD
Byzantine Empire, c. 8th-11th century AD. A gorgeous and absolutely huge bronze reliquary (encolpion) cross. Both sides intact and still sealed! One side depicts Christ with arms outstretched, small cross above His head. The other side depicts the Virgin Mary with arms upraised Orans. Both nimbate and wearing long robes. Loops still connected with the original ancient wire. 83 mm (3 1/4") with glorious glossy green patina. This is the one from the entire collection that I wanted to keep for myself! Would look amazing in one of my 2-sided frames. #JM2112: $650 SOLD

Byzantine Empire, c. 6th-9th century AD. Neat bronze cross pendant. The center a "Latin" cross with rounded ends to the terminals, decorated with punched-dot "Five Wounds of Christ" design on both sides. H: 45 mm (1 3/4"). Mottled bluish-green patina, suspension loop intact. Ex-David Liebert, The Time Machine, NY. #JM2355: $199 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with a "cross-within-cross" design. H: 26 mm (1 inch), with light blue-green patina. Small scratch on back, suspension loop intact. ex-London, UK gallery. #JM2296: $150 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with a right-facing bust. Very interesting! H: 30 mm (1 3/16"), black patina. Suspension loop intact. #JM2259: $125 SOLD
Byzantine Empire. Alexius I Comnenus. 1092-1181 AD. Bronze Tetarteron coin. Patriarchal cross on two steps, A-D, K-F to left and right, above and below / ALEZI, crowned bust of Alexius facing, wearing loros, holding jewelled sceptre and cross on globe (mostly worn away). Nice green tone. ref: SB 1932, BMC 56-65. Set into custom silver bezel with patina. 14mm dia. #JN2205: $99 SOLD
Holy Land, c. 325-638 AD. Great early Byzantine bronze cross pendant. Decorated with the "Five Wounds of Christ" dotted design. H: 30mm (1 1/8'). Olive-green patina, reddish earthen deposits, suspension loop intact. ex-Jerusalem collection. #JM2376: $375 SOLD
Holy Land, c. 325-638 AD. Great early Byzantine bronze cross pendant. Decorated with the "Five Wounds of Christ" dotted design. H: 28mm (1 1/8'). Olive-green patina, heavy earthen deposits, suspension loop clogged. #JM2399: $250 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 9th-12th century AD. Small bronze cross pendant. Both sides decorated with a central "X". H: 25 mm (1 inch"), with dark green patina, suspension loop intact. #JM2380: $125 SOLD
Medieval Europe, c. 6th-8th century AD. Bronze cross pendant. Decorated with punched-dot "Five Wounds of Christ" design and ornate terminals. Olive-green patina with earthen deposits. 40 mm
(1 1/2"). #JM2075: $225 SOLD
Coptic Ethiopia, 18th-19th century AD. Nice small silver cross pendant. Made of base-silver, with suspension loop comprised of 2 flaps that fold over the top. Wear with care! 26 mm (1 inch). #JM2178: $125 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Neat Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. The front with a tall ornate Russian Orthodox cross, initials of Christ above the other with 11 lines of Cyrillic text. L: 35mm, suspension loop intact. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2434: $175 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Neat Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. The front with a tall ornate Russian Orthodox cross, Latin inscription around the other with multiple lines of Cyrillic text. L: 35mm, suspension loop intact. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2437: $150 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Neat Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. The front with a tall ornate Russian Orthodox cross, Latin inscription around the other with 12 lines of Cyrillic text. Elaborate, chunky intact suspension loop. L: 34mm. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2436: $150 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Russian Imperial bronze crucifix pendant. One side depicts Christ upon the cross, banner above His head, a skull and crossbones beneath His feet the other with the Virgin Mary with halo, star above, "MATER DEI" to sides, illegible inscription below. L: 35mm, suspension loop twisted in antiquity. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2435: $150 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Gorgeous Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. A Russian Orthodox cross, Latin inscription to sides, Cyrillic text above and below. L: 35mm, suspension loop intact. Dark brassy tone. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2440: $150 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Gorgeous Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. A central Russian Orthodox cross, Latin inscription to sides, Cyrillic text above and below. L: 25mm, suspension loop intact. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2441: $99 SOLD
Late Medieval Europe, c. 17th-18th century AD. Gorgeous Russian Imperial bronze cross pendant. A Russian Orthodox cross, Latin inscription to sides, Cyrillic text above and below. L: 28mm, suspension loop intact. Ex Los Angeles, CA collection. #JM2442: $99 SOLD

Origin of this pseudo-Roman cameo

I've had an Art Deco man's ring setting in 10K gold for years that belonged to my grandfather. It was bought for him by my grandmother on their first wedding anniversary in 1942 and originally contained an onyx or hematite carved in intaglio with a Roman soldier's head in profile. The stone fell out within a year and he never had it repaired or wore it again.

Recently, I took it to a jeweler to have it repaired so I could wear it, as the setting itself is impressive. My plan was to have the jeweler just replace the missing stone with a piece of polished onyx, but he offered me instead a cameo that had come from another man's ring that was just about the perfect size. He said it was originally set in rose gold, the setting was to be melted down for the gold, and he saved the cameo. The cameo, pictured here, is so intriguing that I opted for it rather than plain onyx. It's definitely hand-carved, and the workmanship is very nice although not exceptionally fine.

The cameo shows two male figures in profile facing right, carved in the "capita jugata" style where the profiles overlap. The top figure, in black, is what I think is supposed to be a Roman soldier, but the style of his dress looks to me more like what someone in, say, the Renaissance would have imagined a Roman soldier to look like. The white figure is indistinct other than it appears to be male rather than female. Both figures sit atop a third layer that is kind of translucent and pale orange in color, and in turn that all sits atop a rectangular piece of what I think is carnelian, which is what is actually set into the ring. It's unclear whether the top three layers are just stuck to the carnelian with adhesive, and thus were carved of a different material, or the carnelian is actually not, and this was all carved from one piece of agate or chalcedony.

One of the attached photos, taken through a loupe, shows the layers. Under the loupe, there appear to be striations in the white and orangeish layers that are more suggestive of stone to me than shell or similar material.

There is some damage to the top of the black figure's helmet, evident in the oblique view. The chip looks conchoidal to me, again suggestive of stone.


How did it Karat become a measurement of the purity of gold?

In 1873 the Germans created a coin called the mark. It weighed 24 carats (4.8 grams). Pure gold is too soft to make a resilient coin or a piece of lasting jewelry. It is therefore strengthened by mixing in other metals – usually copper. The purity of the gold that made up the mark was consequently expressed as the number of karats of gold (purity) that existed in this 24 carat (weight) coin. It is the relationship between the gold present and other metals. In this case the coin was minted at approximately 90% gold.


The Fascinating History of Jewelry

Man has always loved to be adorned with jewels. This led to jewelry developing as an industry. Jewelry is an ornament, for personal adornment. The word jewelry is an anglicized form of the Latin word, jocale which means plaything history says that about 40,000 years back, the first jewelry was worn by the Cro-Magnons, ancestors of Homo sapiens. Their jewelry included crude necklaces and bracelets made of bone, teeth and stone stitched to animal sinew. Recently excavated 100,000 year-old beads, made from Nassarius shells, are considered to be the oldest known jewelry.

Jewelry, earlier, was made for practical uses such as pinning of clothes together. Nowadays it is used not only for decoration but is also considered as a status symbol. There are different types of jewelry made today. New variations like art jewelry is known for its artistic ingenuity. Art here is valued more than the material. Inexpensive costume jewelry, made from inferior materials and the wire sculpture, made from either base metal wire and stones or precious metals and gemstones, are the other contemporary jewelry of present times.

Many pieces of jewelry, such as brooches were originally made for functional purposes are also symbolic. The Christian Cross or the Jewish Star is indicative of the religious faith that one follows. Married couples sport wedding rings.

In Ancient Egypt jewelry was first made around 3,000 to 5,000 years back. The Egyptians adored the shine, rarity, and workability of gold. The Egyptians had accumulated abundant gold from the deserts of Africa and later acquired more as tributes from captured kingdoms. In Egypt, jewelry soon symbolized power. The affluent class wore it not only in their lifetime but also after death, those were buried with them.

In Mesopotamia, jewelry was manufactured from metal inlaid with bright-coloured stones like agate, lapis, carnelian, and jasper. Their favourite shapes were leaves, spirals, cones, and bunches of grapes. It was created both to adorn humans and statues.

In Greece most of the jewelry was made of gold, silver, ivory, gems, bronze and clay. Later they adopted Asian designs following Alexander`s conquests. Initially influenced by European designs, the advent of the Roman rule in Greece, by 27 BC, brought significant changes.

Though influenced by Roman culture indigenous designs survived. The most common ornament of ancient Rome was the brooch, used to secure their flowing clothes together. They used gold, bronze, bone, glass beads and pearl. About 2,000 years back, they imported sapphires from Sri Lankan and diamonds from India. Emeralds and amber were used too.

The Italians earlier created clasps, necklaces, earrings and bracelets from crude gold. Even large pendants to store perfume were made. Known as the eastern successor of the Romans, the Byzantine Empire continued the Roman tradition though religious symbols became predominant. The people of Byzantine preferred light gold ornaments richly inlaid with gems. jewelry was mainly worn by wealthy ladies while men restricted themselves to a signet ring.

India has the longest continuous tradition of jewelry making. Around 1,500 BC the Indus Valley people made their earrings and necklaces of gold, beads other metals. Womenfolk wore clay and shell bracelets, usually painted black and loved tiaras, chokers, brooches and ear rings .Gradually, clay was replaced by glass and metals.

Jewelry had various functions to serve. Its main purpose, in ancient times, was to ward off evil. People have paid dowries with jewelry. It was also created to be used as currency for trading goods, evident from the use of slave beads. It also was a distinguishing mark between the ruler and the ruled. Asset value is still a consideration today.


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