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Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.
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Articles of jewelry made, after the decline of the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures, on the Greek mainland and islands under foreign influence until about the 7th century BC and thereafter when native styles and techniques began to be developed and thrived, especially during the Classical period c. 475-323 BC, and the Hellenistic period, c. 322-27 BC, until the absorption of Greek culture by the Roman Empire.
Gold was used to a great extent, with decoration in gold granulation and filigree work, but few gemstones were used until the Hellenistic period. Among the articles principally made were finger rings, wreaths, diadems, necklaces, pectorals, earrings, and bracelets.
Several Greek jewellers of the present day (e.g. Lalaounis and Zolotas) are making gold and silver jewelry as copies or modern adaptations of the ancient forms.
From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson
The Greeks started using gold and gems in jewelry in 1,400 BC, although beads shaped as shells and animals were produced widely in earlier times.
By 300 BC, the Greeks had mastered making coloured jewelry and using amethysts, pearl and emeralds. Also, the first signs of cameos appeared, with the Greeks creating them from Indian Sardonyx, a striped brown pink and cream agate stone. Greek jewelry was often simpler than in other cultures, with simple designs and workmanship. However, as time progressed the designs grew in complexity different materials were soon utilized.
jewelry in Greece was hardly worn and was mostly used for public appearances or on special occasions. It was frequently given as a gift and was predominantly worn by women to show their wealth, social status and beauty. The jewelry was often supposed to give the wearer protection from the Evil Eye or endowed the owner with supernatural powers, while others had a religious symbolism. Older pieces of jewelry that have been found were dedicated to the Gods.
The largest production of jewelry in these times came from Northern Greece and Macedon. However, although much of the jewelry in Greece was made of gold and silver with ivory and gems, bronze and clay copies were made also.
They worked two styles of pieces; cast pieces and pieces hammered out of sheet metal. Fewer pieces of cast jewelry have been recovered; it was made by casting the metal onto two stone or clay moulds. Then the two halves were joined together and wax and then molten metal, was placed in the centre. This technique had been practised since the late Bronze Age. The more common form of jewelry was the hammered sheet type. Sheets of metal would be hammered to thickness and then soldered together. The inside of the two sheets would be filled with wax or another liquid to preserve the metal work.
Different techniques, such as using a stamp or engraving, were then used to create motifs on the jewelry. Jewels may then be added to hollows or glass poured into special cavities on the surface. The Greeks took much of their designs from outer origins, such as Asia when Alexander the Great conquered part of it. In earlier designs, other European influences can also be detected.
When Roman rule came to Greece, no change in jewelry designs was detected. However, by 27 BC, Greek designs were heavily influenced by the Roman culture. That is not to say that indigenous design did not thrive; numerous polychrome butterfly pendants on silver foxtail chains, dating from the 1st century, have been found near Olbia, with only one example ever found anywhere else.