Looking at Roman glass is like looking at time. Centuries in the soil gave it a ghostlike patina, colored shadows glowing on the surface. It's amazing that so fragile a material survived, which is why museums treasure their ancient Roman glass objects.
Upscale glass in Rome
Glass-working was slow to come to Rome, but travelers to the east, especially Syria, were fascinated by it and soon imported glass was all the rage. It wasn't cheap. One rich man was entertaining Emperor Augustus at dinner when a slave dropped a glass goblet and broke it. The rich man immediately had the slave killed. Augustus may have been a battle-hardened general, but this was too much. He said nothing, but proceeded to pick up and drop every remaining goblet, smashing the entire set.
If you could afford it, beaded jewelry was big in Rome. Glass bead jewelry was just as beautiful then as it is now, and Roman ladies loved wearing this glass. It twinkled from earrings, rings, bracelets, and in long strings or in necklaces of precious metals. Roman toddler girls wore gold earrings with a single glass bead. Museum pieces show that the local goldsmiths used great ingenuity when designing jewelry with glass.
It didn't take long before the Italians caught on to glass techniques (which finally led to that marvelous Murano blown glass we have today), and glass became more affordable.
Roman glass beads today
You'd think that any surviving beads would be expensive, but hoards of Roman glass beads turn up all the time. You can buy them loose, or made into modern jewelry. The same goes for Roman coins: mounted in modern bezels and paired with the beads, they make stunning earrings.
(The picture to the left shows Roman beach sand which is the component that makes up Roman glass.)
The thrill of wearing ancient glass beads isn't only in their beauty, but in the fact that you're wearing something that one of the daughters of Romulus wore centuries ago. And she thought it was just as beautiful as you do.
Ready to make history? Contact us for your own custom-designed glass bead jewelry.