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Modern Greek: Hellenistic Cabochon Jewelry

Our elegant designs adorned with rich cabochon stones offer a fresh take on the jewelry of ancient artisans

Jewelry represents some of the greatest achievements in Greek art. Artistic representations of daily activities, as well as literary accounts of historical events, reveal how affluent Greeks used jewelry to display wealth and prestige. For just one example, this splendid golden hairnet in The Met collection (below) shows a female figure wearing spiral earrings.

Gold openwork hairnet with medallion. Greek, Hellenistic. Gold, ca. 200–150 B.C. Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1987 1987.220

Offered as gifts to the gods at turning points in ancient people’s lives, jewelry was conspicuous in celebrations of marriage, birth, and military victory. Jewelry also accompanied people in death; the deceased could be buried wearing favorite pieces, or funerary adornments might be made especially for entombment. The famous Ganymede jewelry in The Met collection (below) is an assortment of exquisite pieces that were allegedly found together in Macedonia before 1913, near Thessaloniki.

Ganymede jewelry. Greek, Hellenistic. Gold, rock crystal, emerald; ca. 330–300 B.C. Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937 37.11.8–.17

The Hellenistic period—the nearly three centuries between the death of Alexander the Great, in 323 B.C., and the suicide of the famous Egyptian queen “Cleopatra” in 30 B.C.—is one of the most complex and exciting epochs of ancient Greek art. The age saw the introduction of elaborate new jewelry forms. These innovative pieces incorporated precious and semiprecious stones that became available to goldsmiths through newly established trade routes. This fascinating online essay from The Met’s Timeline of Art History explores the topic in detail.

The original Hellenistic jewelry in The Met collection that inspired our contemporary pieces is in the form of a parure, or matching set (below), made during the Late Hellenistic period. The ancient designs include a gold and agate necklace and earrings with large cabochon garnets.

Necklace and earrings. Greek, Late Hellenistic. Gold, garnet, agate; 1st century B.C. Purchase, The Bothmer Purchase Fund and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994 1994.230.4–.6

Made exclusively to our specifications in the United States using globally sourced materials, our stone-bedecked jewelry suite updates these beautiful Hellenistic designs. The rich hues of the cabochons—lapis, carnelian, jasper, and chalcedony—are perfect for everyday wear or a special occasion. Shop the full collection.

Our necklace and bracelet feature 18K gold-plated mesh. The necklace, ring, and earrings are set with vibrant semiprecious stones

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