Triangular Roman Earrings

Posted by Nalin Singapuri on

Hi everybody, I'm Nalin and my dad - Shashi Singapuri - designed and curated the historic reproduction collections for the Museum of Jewelry. Before the internet he would spend a few months a year traveling the world and visiting every museum, auction, and antique shop he could find. Armed with his Canon and reams of film, he would photograph pieces, buy jewelry at auction, and acquire art history books. Later he sketched and manufactured the designs.

mark anthony garnet gold triangle earringsUnfortunately one of the parts of the process that he was not super thorough about is documenting the origins of individual items. In the process of sharing beautiful jewelry on social media sometimes I happen upon the sources, or similarly inspiring pieces. And over time I have tried to be more proactive about finding them.

Today I wanted to talk through our roman earrings a bit - specifically the Mark Antony garnet earrings. I love these, I think they have a beautiful bold profile shape that blends classic and modern seamlessly. As part of the video game generation - a hidden triforce delights me. The filigree inner triangle, grape like granule clusters, and use of garnet are all period authentic so I decided to try and track down the museum artifact source piece.

roman jewelry mold - triangle, circle, hexagon.Unfortunately triangular roman earrings are not a super easy to find. The Met and The Victoria & Albert Museum both don't have many artifacts matching the bill. Which is disappointing - I love having vast searchable collections available at my fingertips, it does not bode well that some of my father's favorite museums don't have similar objects.

I did find some good period examples though. These Roman stone jewelry molds dates to about 200 AD. They would have been been paired with a matching top piece and closed like a clam shell to do metal casting. Wire would be used to finish the piece into a pendant or earring. The triangular mold features a beautiful inlay placed like the filigree in our piece.

christies auction triangle earringsHeres a pair of gold, garnet, and glass roman earrings made with a similar mold. This pair was auctioned at Christies in 2010. 2nd-3rd century AD. They feature hooked ear wires, filigree and granule beading, and blue glass bead dangle.

The similarities to the Marc Antony design are striking. Garnet inlaid stone, triangular shape repeated on the interior, bulbous bottom parts were all the rage in the 3rd century AD.

Some differences too are obvious. The thinner wire and leverback on our earring and thing is an adaption for comfortable and secure wear. Our design features granulation in place of dangling beads, and a more aggressive / modern triangle shape.

private collection garnet triangle roman earringsHeres another example of triangular roman earrings in private collection - it dates about a century later but looks almost identical to the pair shown above. Notable differences: elongated body. Pearls and a disk emerald dangles and the bottom of the piece are stronger then the prior version.

I spent more time than I intended searching for the original source of our design. Please help me track it down - post any triangular roman museum jewelry you find in the comments. Thanks!

 

 

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