Jewelry of the ancient world: power, politics and perfection

Jewelry has always been a part of the ancient world. It has stretched across the globe, and although they may have looked different in style their meaning and importance stayed the same to each nation. It was a way for common people to distinguish their personal style, but even more so was the importance of jewelry in high society. Made out of the most precious metals and stones, jewelry expressed the wearers wealth, rank, and political standing even in death.                                 Size and the materials in which they were made were some the ways in which one could distinguish themselves. Often these materials were obtained by the wealthy men and women through their connections in trade routes and ranged from stones, shells, quartz, gold and silver.                                                           This exhibition allows you to explore in themes rather than chronologically how technique and size became a show of power. How jewelry was as important in death as in life and how jewelry distinguished your political standing.

This broad collared necklace is made from Egyptian faience and is one of the earliest forms of 'paste' jewelry. Although a common material for jewelry for even the most common of people the colours and size suggest wealth.
This is an example of late Roman jewelry from Cyprus. The technique encompassed thin gold sheets to create a lace-like effect which included precious stones. Not a common nor inexpensive manner of jewelry it was created for women of high standing.
Even in death women and men showcased their wealth through the objects and portraits buried with them. This woman is showcased with a gold necklace and pearl earrings indicating her elite status in society.
Here we see a prime example of grave objects of a high class woman found near the Dutch town of Rhenen. We can see a necklace made from amber and multicoloured glass beads and a solid silver bracelet among them. The materials in which these objects were created were both highly expensive and near impossible for common people to obtain showcasing this woman's wealth and importance in society.
In pre-Columbia the jewelry chosen during funerals was just as important as in every day life. Elites chose necklaces showcasing animals, divine figures, and even plants. Here we see small toads represented.
Jewelry was important to showcase political rank. Here we see a turquoise and black porphyry necklace. Made from exotic materials including stones and shells that allowed leaders to distinguish themselves.
For women, starting fashion trends was a way to show status. Here we see a depiction of Julia Titi, daughter of Roman emperor Titus. She was a fashion icon due to her connection to the emperor and was depicted with tightly curled hair (a trend started by her), a diadem along with a necklace and golden earrings now missing.
This pendant, from a woman's necklace was created from molten down Roman gold coins. The intricate piece not only showcases the abilities of Germanic goldsmiths but also a political power that enabling Germanic people to take revenue from the Romans and shape into something else entirely.
Imperial medallions such as this one, were either mounted or worn as part of a belt for individuals to boast about their favour in society.
This is a trapezoidal bead necklace worn by political leaders in ancient Peru. The exotic materials that it was made from distinguished them from the rest of the population and showed their control of trade.
This is a quartz necklace worn by political leaders in ancient Peru. The exotic materials that made it distinguished them from the rest of the population and showed their control of trade.
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