Gold ear-stud


British Museum

British Museum

This large gold ear-stud was made during the Etruscan Archaic period, when most jewellery was more restrained than in the previous century. Stunning items like this were obviously made to catch the eye. It was a fashion that perhaps originated in Lycia, Turkey and spread to Greece and Italy.

The patterns are made with fine gold wire (filigree) and minute gold granules (granulation). Sometimes the granulation on Etruscan jewellery is so fine that it resembles gold powder, and working with it must have required consummate skill. The coils of wire and tiny gold petals must have shimmered and gleamed as the wearer moved her head. Sometimes the ear-studs were set with contrasting dark blue glass paste, as here. Most of these ear-studs have a short tube attached at a right angle to the back of the disc, in the centre, but it is uncertain exactly how they were fixed to the ear.

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  • Title: Gold ear-stud
  • Date Created: -530/-480
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 6.80cm; Weight: 318.00g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: inlaid; filigree; granulation
  • Subject: siren
  • Registration number: 1881,0528.2
  • Production place: Made in Italy
  • Place: Found/Acquired Etruria
  • Period/culture: Etruscan
  • Material: gold; glass
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Bale, Charles Sackville


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