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The Need for Bead

Our Roman Bead jewelry offers a fresh take on the ancient world, with semiprecious stones that dazzle

With their oversized scale and simple yet bold proportions, a pair of earrings in The Met collection earrings would fit right in at a contemporary fashion show—yet they’re almost two millennia old.

Gold earring with rock crystal bead. Roman, Imperial. Gold, rock crystal; D. 1-1/2 in., 1st–2nd century A.D. The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.3619)


Explains Christopher Lightfoot, Curator of Greek and Roman Art at The Met: 

Rock crystal was a rare and exotic material in antiquity, used for both jewelry and highly prized vessels. It was used for beads from very early times throughout the Near East and in Egypt. In the Hellenistic period (323–31 B.C.), it was also carved into large fingerings, such as this one. This ring, like the earrings, belongs to the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities from Cyprus. They may be local products because a rock crystal source is known on the island near Paphos. The precise date of these earrings remains uncertain, but it is probable that they are Roman and can be dated to the 1st–2nd century A.D. They typify the sort of rather simple but elegant jewelry that women found attractive during that period.

Launching this Monday, our new Roman Bead jewelry looks to the straightforward yet appealing allure of these ancient originals.

Stack them up: The Roman Bead Ring in turquoise ($75), lapis ($65), and fossilized coral ($65)


Whether you’re dressing for work, the weekend, or a big night out, this jewelry is designed to me mixed, matched, layered, and stacked. More pieces means more style—and more personality. Every piece contains semiprecious fair-trade stones from Chile, Brazil, the Rocky Mountains, and beyond. Which means you can feel extra beautiful sporting these lapis, fossilized coral, and turquoise beads.

Lines of beauty: The Roman Bead fossilized coral bracelet (left, $15); the Roman Bead slide pendant necklaces, rings, and bracelets


These earrings, rings, and necklaces reinterpret a legacy of luxury. Wear our pieces to play your part in 2,000 years of glamour. Discover the full selection at store.metmuseum.org.

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