The Byzantine Influence

Some of you who know me, know that I teach at local Design institutes. Among the subjects I teach, World Historic costumes is something I truly cherish. History has been my favourite subject right from the college days. In college, on the day before the exams, I would sit along with my classmates and help them learn by teaching them the basics. One day my HOD found out what I was doing and found it amusing when my friends suggested that I teach really well. They said that one day I would be teaching a history class to students in a real college and after 4.5 years its come true.
Now, while preparing my teacher notes, I found myself falling in love with Byzantine jewelry and wanted to share the details.
In the Byzantine Empire jewelry was a way to express ones status. In 529 AD Emperor Justinian regulated the wearing and usage of jewelry in a new set of laws, called the Justinian Code. He explicitly writes that sapphires, emeralds and pearls are reserved for the emperor's use but every free man is entitled to wear a gold ring.
Early Byzantine jewelry reflected both Greek and Roman styles, but oriental and Middle Eastern influences came to prevail. Both men and women wore heavy jeweled collars, earrings, rings, and brooches made of gold, pearls, and precious stones. The people of the Byzantine Empire liked their jewelry colorful. Christian iconography in the form of crosses and enameled saint's images used as pendant and pectoral jewelry were a common sight. 

The art of enameling, which was imported from Persia, gained special attention and from here spread to the rest of Europe. Enameling techniques, including the cloisonné enameling, which consists of a thin coating of white or pale blue enamel inlaid between slightly raised gold wire, flourished between the 9th and 11th centuries.
Looping - Gemstones were often were rounded , polished and then drilled. A wire would be passed through and bent into a loop on either side of the gem. This way the gemstones would be attached to one another to form jewelry
Collet setting - Polished cabochans would be set in collets or bezel setting
Glyptography - the art of gemstone carving and applies to both intaglios (carving or a depression on a smooth background)  and cameos. Intaglios were originally used for jewelry but after the Victorian period were restricted to seals.
Opus Interrasile -It is a metalworking technique that involves creating a style of openwork decoration by piercing a sheet of metal with a chisel or other sharp tool.
I was really inspired and made some pieces in my latest collection inspired by these techniques.
The first is a cameo based ring surrounded with white stone (crystal chain)
The second one is a inspired by a Lapis lazuli pieces - Its looped with blue glass beads with a wire wrapped mirror focal. The mirror is a sub for a large gemstone.
The third is a dangler earring made with red Cloisonne beads and the gold ones mimic the Opus Interrasile technique.
The fourth one is a more contemporary derivation of a Typical Byzantine bangle with a hinge or open closure. It would have Opus interrasile goldwork with cabochons set in bezels. I tried to bring about this using a openwork jute tag, some swarovski crystals and pearl snap buttons.
My pieces, I agree are no comparison to the exquisite Byzantine ones but I guess what the lack in technique, they make up in spirit. Would love your feedback as usual.
I hope you found it interesting. All pieces are available for sale. Please contact me to buy them.



  1. the ring and the blue necklace are sooooo pretty!!!!! i so wanna have them!

    1. All pieces are available for sale. Please contact me to buy them.

  2. Hi Divya... Ur blog is really interesting . I must say u are very creative . Love all of ur creations.


  3. Hi Divya,

    As always , your blog posts are interesting and inspiring . As a keen collector of vintage articles , I have found the ancient jewelry making techniques extremely beautiful, and your creations for this collection are awesome!



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