The prevalent use of pearls in the Roman Empire is apparent just by looking at ancient artifacts; surviving jewelry, sculptures, cameos, coins, mosaics, and drawings from this ear. The ancient writings of famous authors of the period such as Pliny the Elder, also teach the world about the importance pearls had in the Greco-Roman Empires.
“[Pearls] occupied the first rank…and the very highest position among valuables.”
Pliny, Historia Naturalis
Above: Pearl earring from the Roman Empire first to third century C.E.
Above: Early seventh century bracelet with pearls, sapphires and chalcedony excavated in Upper Egypt.
Above: Chalice of Abbe Suger from the Abbey of Saint-Denis, is decorated with pearls, precious gems and gold. The sardonyx cup is from the second to first century B.C.E.
Sumptuary laws created by Julius Cesear banned women below a certain rank from wearing pearls. Pearls became an indicator of status.
(Source: Pearls: A Natural History, Landman, Mikkelsen)