chapter  4
12 Pages

Gemstones and other settings

The use of gems in Romano-British jewellery deserves to be discussed as a subject in its own right, although it cuts across the broad typological classification that forms the basis of these chapters. The point has already been made in Chapter 2 that the setting of coloured stones in jewellery, and in particular the decorative engraving of such stones for use as seals, was an ancient tradition in the Classical world but was new to the Celtic north. The mounting of coral or enamel studs on bronze was indeed an Iron Age Celtic technique, and it testifies to a similar enjoyment of the visual effect of the vivid colour contrast of a red accent against a gold-coloured background, but this is only one aspect of the appeal of stone settings as used in Classical jewellery. The widespread use of coloured stones and glass set in metal ornaments or used as beads and pendants, and the further development of enamelling in a range of colours, is one of the distinctive features that marks the classicization of jewellery in Roman Britain.