Lot 434: Byzantine Gold Earrings with Amethysts and Pearls
December 6, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 6th-8th century AD. A matched pair of gold earrings, each a hook and loop with teardrop amethyst to the underside, chevron rod with hooked ends engaging looped ends of a crescentic dangle with row of pearls to the outer edge, independently suspended pearl and amethyst to the centre. 14 grams total, 58mm (2 1/4"). From an important collection of Christian artefacts, formed in London in the 1980s. Supplied with a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. Byzantine jewellery was a full continuation of the Roman traditions which were kept alive at the new capital, Constantinople, as well as other centres of artistic tradition, such as Antioch. In the Byzantine Empire jewellery played an important role. It acted as a way to express one's status and as a diplomatic tool. In 529 AD Emperor Justinian took up laws regulating the wearing and usage of jewellery in a new set of laws, later to be called the Justinian Code. He explicitly writes that sapphires, emeralds and pearls are reserved for the emperor's use but every free man is entitled to wear a gold ring. Pearls were prized in the previous Hellenistic and Roman periods, but seem even more so in the Byzantine empire The mosaics of San Vitale at Ravenna, Italy, depict Justinian and his wife, the empress Theodora, sumptuously bedecked in pearl encrusted diadems, necklaces and brooches. 
Condition Report: Very fine condition.