Opinion: Ancient Roman Inspiration in Jewelry

It’s not intriguing that empires/kingdoms looked up to great empires that existed in the past like Ancient Rome for inspiration. When a nation wants to move on from a time of careless attitudes that lead to unfortunate tragedies, a nation seeks to rebuild itself. Therefore a nation’s inspiration are of past glorious empires to create a new empire, for many in Europe it was the Roman Empire like the Victorian era famously had the use of roman deities on their cameo rings, bracelets and necklaces. Ironically, the Victorian era represents one of Great Britain’s greatest eras with the amount of colonies around the world, the spread of new technology and wealth. The Roman empire also served as inspiration to people during times of struggle. For example, previous to the Neoclassical style was the Rococo era, a very frivolous, soft, sweet, carefree style in fashion, however the extravagant society lead to its downfall with the French Revolution. Neoclassical fashion quickly became the new style trend because people wanted glory like that of the past. Some examples in neoclassicism in art are the serious sharp lines, Greek philosophers, roman soldiers, roman deities and etc, to begin reconstruction and a new thoughtful, more enlightened, style inspiration represented the people’s attitudes. It is not a surprise that the Roman Empire might have inspired all art forms in every era through heavy or subtle ways.


In fashion, different eras are influenced by another to create something new, Romans were influenced by the Greeks and Etruscans. Later on the Romans might have inspired the Byzantine empire onwards, and inspiration kept spiraling to eventually inspire the Baroque, Regency, Victorian and present day like in some Chanel, Versace, Valentino and Dolce And Gabbana runways.

Valentino Haute Couture 2015.  Roman inspired toga dress, gold crown and necklace.


Roman jewelry is notorious for their wreathed crowns, arm bracelets, gold, engraved glass, studded belts and most jewelry used precious stones like rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

Here are a few pieces of jewelry from the Roman Empire found at the Getty Villa:

Roman Coin belt
Roman Necklace


Roman wreath crown


Roman Bracelets

















Roman warrior earrings
Roman Cameo and Intaglio


Roman jewelry inspiration in different eras, each of these eras had a small influence plus their own twists which differentiates every era:

  •  Byzantine empire-  Gold engravings with people, animals, nature with stones like rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Symbol of the cross becomes present.f5aeffcbd192bc727bcb4a6fd2b3fe61victorian_jewelry_5Byzantine Bracelet
  • Baroque- its defined literally as an irregular pearl. But to many baroque is seen as extravagance. Like the exaggerated  gold, jewels and pearls in the forms of crosses, leaves, animals, mystical creatures and ships not only in jewelry but in decor as well.
  • Regency/Napoleonic- The wealth of the French appear in gold and diamonds. The cameo makes it’s return in neoclassical period. Notice how the cameo is not only for roman deities but for General Napoleon as well.
  • RegencyNapoleonicNapoleonic erring
  • Victorian- The romantic movement spread to all arts with inspiration of Greek mythology and neoclassical design. Use of roman deities appeared on cameos and intaglios during the Victorian era. However, there came an introduction of intaglios with diamonds, amethyst with floral designs.
  • Victorian Cameo Ringsil_fullxfull.980238078_pozvVictorian Cameo Tiara


Isn’t it fascinating that the eras mentioned were either growing empires or flourishing ones?


Present day


Wreath crown at the Versace Atelier runwayVersace fall 2015 doutzen-kroes


Chanel’s Byzantine/Roman/Etruscan inspired Jewels- It is unknown what era in particular inspired Mademoiselle Chanel. However, looking at cuffs and necklaces in Chanel’s costume jewelry, it is apparent the stones look unpolished, the thick gold and engravings signify an ancient empire’s influence.

Valentio Fall 2015- The head wreath makes it’s return with the gold leaf design and gold necklace.

Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2015/16: Valentino
Valentino  Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2015/16 collection

Dolce&Gabbana-  This design house is known for it’s Italian heritage in their designs. The earrings on the left look more of a Byzantinian influence and the earrings on the right look more Greco Roman influenced.



*** NOTE- This is all opinion and observance based insight. 



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