Ancient Roman Jewelry

Ancient Rome has a long and interesting history. Founded around 753 BC it went through many changes transitioning from a monarchy to a republic, and then to one of the most powerful empires the world has ever known. Throughout their history Romans wore such jewelry (also spelled jewellery) as rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, and bracelets.

On this page we supply interesting facts and information on the types of jewelry (also spelled jewellery) created and worn by the ancient Romans throughout their history. For more information on this ancient civilization visit Ancient Rome History Facts.

The archaeological sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum have supplied numerous pieces of well preserved Roman jewelry from the 1st Century AD. However archaeological discoveries of jewelry from ancient Rome are relatively rare when considering the vast reach of the empire and the fact that it existed for many centuries. Contributing to this is the fact that Romans generally did not bury their dead but rather cremated them. This meant that the Romans did not leave behind incredible burial sites teaming with jewelery and other artifacts as did the ancient Egyptians. However due to several discoveries and writings about all aspects of Roman life, including jewelry, there is much known about Roman personal adornment. The early Romans generally adopted the simple styles of the Etruscans and the people of Greece for their jewelry (also spelled jewellery) styles. As the empire and its wealth grew their jewelry became more elaborate and colorful and incorporated all types of materials.

Materials Used in Ancient Roman Jewelry

The Roman Empire conquered most of the known world and also established relationships with numerous cultures throughout Europe, Egypt, Africa and the Mediterranean. Many of the civilizations they conquered and traded with influenced the style of the jewelry they made. These areas also made available many different types of materials for use in the Roman's jewelry. Some of these materials are listed below.


In the early days of Roman civilization gold was very scarce. Its use for personal adornment was actually officially discouraged so that it could be used for trade and currency. As the empire grew gold supplies increased to an unprecedented amount. This lead to an increase in its use in jewelery. The empire attracted many artisans who crafted a wide variety of gold necklaces, rings, pendants, and other forms of jewelry.


Pearl jewelry was very popular with the ancient Romans. The infamous emperor Caligula loved pearls. He wore slippers adorned with pearls and even made a pearl necklace for one of his favorite horses. Pearls were often worn at special occasions. It is recorded that in 61 B.C. thirty three crowns of pearls and many pearl ornaments were worn at a procession in Pompeii.


Amber was frequently utilized by the Roman jewelry makers. They established what became known as the "Amber Route" to transport amber from the current day Polish city of Gdansk on the Baltic Sea to cities throughout their vast empire. The Roman historian and scientist Pliny the Elder wrote that amber was not just for adornment but could also be used to cure illness.