Owned by Dame Joan Evans
The Victoria & Albert Museum
That Dame Joan Evans! She certainly had some great jewelry—and, thankfully, she left it to the V&A so that we can all enjoy it. Dame Joan’s collection wasn’t just limited to items made during her own lifetime, she collected jewels from antiquity onward. Here’s an exceptional example of a Hellenistic Greek piece from Dame Joan’s monumental collection.
By the Hellenistic period (323-27 BC), Greek jewelers were introducing more colorful stones in their work, slowly making color one of the most important aspects of the era. With settings of gold, the Greeks favored garnets above all other stones. They, however, also used emeralds, carnelian, rock crystal, agates, onyxes or lapis-lazuli. While the stones were not cut and faceted in the manner to which we are accustomed now, the stones were presented in their best possible light. The stones were pierced, cut, abraded and polished and carved. Some gems were left in their natural crystalline state in order to showcase their original beauty. Often, colored glass was used in imitation of stone. For example in this necklace, glass was used to imitate onyx and pearl.
Hellenistic Greek necklaces, were typically worn tight around the neck, like a contemporary choker or ribbon. Sometimes, they were made to be worn in a looser fashion at the base of the neck. This necklace is a good example of the type of enclosure used--tied at the back by means of a cord. Greek ladies liked to wear their necklaces in multiples, especially alternating necklaces with simple beads with one of more a more elaborate form like this one which is comprised of female heads, gold with granulation, garnet, emerald, and the aforementioned glass in imitation of onyx and pearl. It was made between 200 and 100 B.C.