Gemstone Jewelry in the Times of Ancient Rome

Rome has been known for many things. From its philosophers to traditions, it has made a mark on history. One other thing that still survives time from the old era is its beautiful gemstone jewelry. Roman Empire was expanded over vast land and was rich in different kinds of minerals. Its jewelry was a combination of its own inspirations and influences of Egyptian, European, African, and Mediterranean jewelry art.

Types of Gemstones Used

Their jewelry was made of precious minerals for the base as well as the crowning which was mostly done using precious and semiprecious jewels. This required experienced hands and creative minds which were not so rare in Roman Empire. From the earliest of times, roman jewelers were experienced in using different kinds of gemstones including rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, pearls, ambers, jets, and garnets.

Roman Men and Gemstone Jewelry

Gemstone jewelry was designed differently and specially for men. It was to be worn in front of the knuckle rather than behind it as we do today. This explains the smaller size of the rings. In the earliest centuries, rings were worn on all 10 fingers but this trend later reduced to a single ring.

The Art of Wearing Rings

Rings were the most popular pieces of jewelry. They were made for both the genders and had beautiful designs made on the band and the stone. The gemstones were often carved with pictures of gods or even historical figures. Among all the gemstones, carnelian was the most famous gemstone used for rings. Garnet, quartz, and amethyst were also preferred by most.

Not Just for Beautification

Gemstone rings in ancient Rome were not only used to be worn as beautiful items of fine jewelry. They also reflected beauty and the status of the wearer. As is the ritual today, rings were exchanged to honor engagements in Ancient Roman era. Special rings were worn by kings and people with authority to seal documents using rings in order to verify the belongingness of the sender.


After rings, this was the second most worn piece of jewelry that was studded with precious and semiprecious jewels. Fibulae were used by men and women both to hold their clothing together. It appeared like a fancy brooch and was made in various designs.

Gemstone Jewelry for Women

Women wore a variety of other jewelry that was made using gemstones as central pieces. These included bracelets, waistbands, etc. Earrings, toe rings, and hairpins were also commonly used and were studded with stones like jasper, onyx, pearls, peridot, emeralds, lapis lazuli, etc.

Ambers Were Far More Valued Than A Roman Slave

The most precious and prized ambers were collected from the Baltic region and even though they were not even proper minerals owing to their production from tree resin, they were valued to be far more precious and worthy than a healthy roman slave.

Gemstones have seen a magnificent era in Ancient Roman times and have been used in numerous ways from the beautification of people to the adornment of ornaments and sculptures.

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