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Byzantine jewelry is a type and style from the Byzantine era. It can refer to authentic pieces from the Byzantine time period, or it can refer to a replication made based on the jewelry of that era. Authentic Byzantine jewelry was created during the Byzantine Empire, which was from the fourth century AD to approximately the mid 1400s, and the replicas have been made during subsequent time periods. The jewelry is influenced by the art of the Byzantine civilization, which made heavy use of the Christian cross and other early religious symbols. The Byzantine time period was full of wealth and riches, so there was an abundance of gold metal used during this time.
Authentic Byzantine jewelry is typically made from weighty gold with a healthy smattering of gemstones. The designs tend to be ornate with many references to Christianity. Some of the gemstones used in Byzantine pieces of jewelry include garnets, pearls, corundum, and beryls, which were traded from the Eastern countries such as India and areas of Persia. The amount of gold that was used is one of the classical characteristics of Byzantine art and jewelry. The authentic art and jewelry pieces are collector's items and can be found in many museums.
The Eastern Roman Empire art and jewelry during the time also had Byzantine influences even though they were not formally a part of the Byzantine Empire. The jewelry typically had rounded stones, and artists drilled holes into them to string gold chains through each piece. They adorned necklaces with the stones amidst the thick gold chains. Jewelry makers placed the stones in gold settings, and the pieces were displayed in this manner.
There are many types of jewelry that were made during the Byzantine time period, and this includes necklaces, neck pieces, head pieces along with bracelets, rings, earrings, and other ornamental jewelry. Bangles were very popular during this period of jewelry art, and often people wore more than one at a time on each arm. Each of the jewelry arm pieces was very heavy due to the gold, so one amazing aspect of Byzantine jewelry is that they were worn in abundance as status symbols. Head pieces were very common during this time and had solid plates of gold that were designed with icons of classic period figures.
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