Studying Jewelry

Last year, I passed by a jewelry shop on Market Street in Philadelphia and saw my name emblazoned across a pair of hoop earrings. For just $79.99 I could introduce myself to all viewers. The hoops were about 2″ across, and decorative accents are engraved on each letter, adding texture and glint to the personalized ornament.

I’ve been studying and thinking about ancient jewelry for couple of decades now. Much of this research focused on specific kinds of ornaments — Greek earrings, say, for my dissertation, or, in a wild stretch of the theme, Etruscan earrings. Most of this work has been conducted in isolation, since jewelry can in no way be considered a hot topic for archaeologists or classicists. It never really occurred to me to write a blog since it was difficult enough to get journal editors interested in the subject. But I’ve had a number of experiences speaking to general audiences in recent years and have found that their enthusiasm, interest, and questions invigorate new appreciation for these objects that I’ve come to take for granted. My goal for this blog is to spotlight some aspects of my research, but more often, to give space to objects and concepts that don’t fit readily into a book chapter or article. If you are curious about ancient jewelry, I hope to hear from you.

I should have gotten those earrings. The shop is now closed, making way for more chain retail intended to revitalize the area. I suppose I could always find them online, but I missed the chance to connect the earrings with that moment and place. They wouldn’t have the same meanings, and I of all people should have known better.

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