Ancient Greek Jewelry

Ancient Greek jewelry (also spelled jewellery) includes the period from 1400 BC to 31 BC. It encompasses the Early Mycenaean Age, the Minoan period, the Classical Greek period and the Hellenistic period of Greek culture. A lot of the information we have today about jewelry from this period in Greece is from jewels and replicas that were found in graves and tombs. Jewelry was placed in the tomb with the thought that it would travel to the afterlife with the owner. We can see notable changes in jewelry throughout ancient Greek history in the materials used, the expense and the intricacy and design. Jewelry was not only popular among the Greeks, but so beautifully made that other cultures throughout Europe tried to replicate its simplistic design and naturalistic beauty.
For additional information on this ancient civilization visit Ancient Greece Facts.

Ancient Minoan Jewelry

Minoan artists were known for producing intricate metal pieces out of imported gold and silver. They would adhere small beads of gold and gold wire (called granulation) onto cast jewelry including rings and pendants, often in the shape of flowers. The techniques of these metallurgists were acquired from as near as the mainland and as far as Syria and Egypt. Minoan jewelry often depicts animals and nature including typical engraved motifs of birds, insects, sea life, and lions.

Ancient Mycenaean Jewelry

Easy access to gold was the reason for its burst in popularity during this time period. Minoan artisans crafted very intricate designs of flowers, humans, religious scenes, spiral shapes, and beetles out of gold sheets and stones. The artisans would have to master their skills with years of apprentice work in the painstaking process of detailed engravings. The period of the "Greek Dark Ages" arose around 1100 BC as the Mycenaean civilization mysteriously disappeared very suddenly and for about 200 years very little jewelry was created.

Classical Greek Period Jewelry

Also known as the "Golden Age", this period saw an end to granulation and a surgance in refined and more feminine pieces. Artisans maintained the quality of their work but did not make any significant advancements during this time. Filigree rose in popularity as did miniature sculpting. Rosettes were a common motif as were flowers and tassels. Elaborate wreath designs emerged, stones and engravings were added to finger rings, intricate necklaces were created, and bracelets were designed as complete circles with decorative designs.

Hellenistic Period Jewelry

Gemstones of vibrant colors, both precious and semi-precious, were being used as focal points in all types of gold ancient Greek jewelry during this time. Elaborate earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, pins, rings, hair bands and ornaments would all be likely to contain either amethyst, garnet, pearls, chalcedony, carnelian, ruby. In some cases a glass paste was used in place of an expensive stone to create a similar look for less money. New styles of motifs also appeared such as the gods Eros and Nike, doves, and the crescent design originally from Western Asia. New jewelry forms such as hoop earring were Jewelry during this time was often either passed down through the generations or offered to the gods.