Thematic exhibition

Byzantine jewelry

The incomparable art of Byzantine jewelry
χρυσό πυραμιδόσχημο περίαπτο,  Άγνωστος, CC BY-ND 4.0
Archaeological Receipts and Expropriations Fund

No empire has a richer tradition of jewelry than the Byzantine. For 1,000 years, Byzantium reigns supreme and supports the arts, architecture, makes elaborate public works and of course, jewelry. Merging the splendor and wealth of Greece, Egypt, the Middle East and parts of Russia and North Africa, Byzantium creates a unique style in jewelry.

Byzantine jewelry makes strong use of the Christian cross and other early religious symbols, a characteristic of the Byzantine Empire. With an abundance of gold, artists create elaborate gold pieces with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, pearls, amethysts, lapis lazuli and other precious stones obtained from trading with India, Persia and the East. Popular techniques such as cloisonné, a finish achieved by pouring colored melted glass into welded designs, added color and luxury.

In this period of prosperity, men, women, even children wear bracelets, necklaces, body chains, rings and ornate earrings, heavy rings with coats of arms, symbolic words or biblical scenes.

After the Fall of Constantinople, the art of jewelry-making declines, although many goldsmiths, along with other craftsmen and artists, flee to the West and will play an important role in the arts during the Italian Renaissance.