Jewelry: Glass Adaptions

Glass was frequently used in antiquity to imitate jewelry items made from other precious materials. Glass rings were made to look like gold and silver rings with inset gems. Glass bracelets also imitated popular metal varieties in their forms, but, interestingly, they were often brightly colored. Colored beads made form glass could be readily molded into shapes or relief images, in contrast to the carving required for individual gemstones (see necklaces with molded Medusa-head beads, and with vivid, striped glass cowry shells).

The prevalence of glass in ancient jewelry might suggest to the modern viewer that such items were less expensive and lower in quality than their metal and gemstone counterparts—an ancient equivalent of "costume jewelry". This was not the case: glass was not only considered to be an elite material for jewelry (as indicated by the combination of gems and glass in single pieces) but was actively celebrated for its bright colors and patterns. Some glass jewelry was strictly imitative—made to look like objects made from another material; other examples were emulative—similar to objects made from other materials, but surpassing them in skill and celebrating the unique qualities of glass medium.