Roman glass jewelry is a type of jewelry that incorporates both beauty and history. Unlike pottery and stone, glass is not a material commonly associated with ancient societies, but in fact it was highly popular and widely produced in the Roman Empire, leading to archaeological finds.
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Roman Glass is ancient glass discovered in archaeological excavation sites in Israel and other Mediterranean countries. The sources of the glass in a piece of Roman jewelry originally belonged to a vase, jug or vessel. The presence of sandy dunes and beaches made ancient Israel one of the largest glass producers of the Roman Empire, and the same sands helped preserve, shape and temper the glass used in jewelry pieces, according to Bluenoemi Jewelry.com.
According to Archaeology.org, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, the peoples of the Roman Empire used more glass than any other ancient civilization. Glassblowing, which made large-scale glass production practicable, was discovered in the Syro-Palestinian region during the first century BCE, and by the first century CE glass vessels were commonplace throughout the empire. Glass vessels were used for serving food, drinking and washing hands between meal courses. Foods and condiments were stored in glass bottles and jars, glass bottles were used by mourners to pour libations and sprinkle perfumes on pyres, and the ashes of the deceased were sometimes collected in glass urns. Excavations in the Syro-Palestinian region show that late Roman glassmakers could make enough glass for tens of thousands of small- to medium-size vessels in a single operation.
Sources of Roman Glass Jewelry
It is the mass production of glass in the Roman Empire that has enabled Roman glass jewelry to be developed, according to the website of Art at the Center-Judaica Gallery. Excavations in Israel dating from the period when Rome and then Constantinople ruled Palestine often contain small shards of little value to archeologists which are instead used by jewelers who set them into gold, silver or another metal.
The aging process that the glass has undergone gives Roman glass jewelry its unique attraction, according to the Art at the Center-Judaica gallery. Contaminants manufactured into the glass, in combination with the environment in which the glass has spent hundreds of years, produce vibrant lusters and specklings in place of the original clarity and transparency. Coloration also depends on the treatment and setting of the glass by the jeweler, with greens, blues, purples and reds being most common.
There are many online sources for Roman glass jewelry, including Israeli companies. Many of these sources offer Certificate of Authentication. The National Geographic Store is an online source for Roman glass jewelry with a mission of cultural preservation through partnering with artisans in economically and politically unstable areas, according to its website.
Roman glass is sensitive to water, which can cause the surface of the glass to flake, according to the Art at the Center-Judaica gallery.