Gold Jewellery | Gold Jewelry History
Old Gold Rings and Ancient Gold Jewellery.Gold rings made in the Roman era make an excellent gift for a loved one. They are also very collectable, and being gold, they make a sound investment.
In ancient Rome the goldsmith, or aurifex as he was known, was a highly respected craftsman. Initially, both the wearing and burial of gold rings and other valuable jewellery was regulated by law. However, during the time of the Roman Empire, these restrictions were relaxed. During the height of the expansion of the Empire, between the years AD200 and AD400, gold jewellery was widely worn, particularly as wedding rings and engagement rings, and many gold jewellery making techniques and styles were developed in this period.
Prospecting for gold in the rivers of Ireland was a common practice from the era of the Bronze Age, and the Minoans became wealthy as a result of being a trading stop on the Mediterranean. They used their prime location as a basis for producing stamped gold sheeting, filigree work and granulated jewellery, where granules of gold were used to cover other, less valuable surfaces. They also produced stunning burial masks and beads, and by 2000BC, their methods had sped to Mycenae and other Greek islands, before finding their way to mainland Greece.
Examples of filigree and granulation work are most notable in Etruscan art, and its beauty was more highly prized due to the mystery surrounding the production process. Until these technologies spread from the Minoans, the use of gold in the emerging Greek culture was quite rare.
As Roman civilisation expanded and flourished, artisans made their way to the city and created all sorts of roman jewelry. Cameos framed in gold, bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces for women and headdresses were just some of the beautiful pieces created by these migrant goldsmiths.
In the early days, only the most prominent Roman citizens were allowed to wear rings, but as time passed, the privilege extended to include even warriors with no real standing in society. By the third century AD, anyone other than the absolute dregs of society was entitled to wear a gold ring, assuming of course that they could afford one. Interestingly, historians date the original use of a ring as the symbol of engagement to Roman times.
As Rome’s love affair with gold continued, along with vintage engagement rings, it was also used in the home, for household items and even furniture, although only the wealthiest families could afford to have gold furnishings and decorations. By the 3rd century AD, necklaces containing medallions featuring the image of the current Emperor were popular, and these pieces are a great aid in dating particular pieces of jewellery.
With the spread of Christianity across the continent of Europe, the practice of burying jewellery and other valuable possessions with the dead was discontinued. For that reason, few examples of jewellery from the Middle Ages survived, other than those owned by the European royal houses and the Catholic Church. Current knowledge of medieval gold jewellery is mainly garnered from the art and literature of the period.
During the Middle Ages, although the Celts produced many ornate and intricate brooches, other areas of Europe used gold mainly for church artefacts such as religious icons and other objects of faith. However, by the time of the Renaissance, when Classicism influenced all art forms, gold jewellery making experienced its own renaissance as it once more emerged as a decorative art form. Gold jewellery making and art were very closely linked, it is said that the artist Botticelli started out as an apprentice to a goldsmith.