Saturday, January 4, 2014

Roman Earrings

Gold earring with convex disk and small disk
The seventh Historical Sew Fortnightly is "Tops and Toes", i.e., accessories worn on the head or the feet.  

After pondering how I'm going to make the various components of the völva costume on my miniscule recreational costuming budget, I was tempted to forgo this challenge until I noticed that the Dreamstress's post specifically says that earrings would qualify for the challenge.  Then it occurred to me that I could make a simple pair of ancient Roman earrings. Janet Stephens, the "hairdresser archaeologist," has a video (see left) demonstrating the manufacture of a simple pair of earrings.  It's clear from the video that such earrings would take less than five minutes to make.  Perfect!

Ms. Stephens's example features (artificial) pearls.  It occurred to me that the same basic technique could be used to make a pair of gold earrings similar to the pair shown in the photograph below the video, which is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.*

The earrings in the Met's pair have a small disk above a larger, hemispherical gold disk and use the same type of s-shaped hook Ms. Stephens shows her viewers how to make.  If I use gold-filled balls instead of the pearls featured in Ms. Stephens's instructions, and cover the crimp rings with matching crimp-covers that look like little beads, the result will look broadly similar (though definitely not identical) to the Met's pair. 

The Met sells two different reproductions based upon this pair of earrings.  One is done in 14K gold, with 18K gold "overlay" and 14K gold earwires, and costs the non-member $625.00 USD.  The other is 24K gold "overlay" (underlying metal unspecified), 14K gold-filled earwires, and costs the non-member $95.00 USD. By using gold-filled components from, I can make a similar pair for less than $13.00 USD!  I am planning to use rose-gold filled components, to give the result a different color than the Met's originals also.  I will order the components as soon as the contours of my budget for the month become established.

EDIT:  (1/9/2014) It's a good thing I reviewed my planned purchase.  The biggest rose gold beads I can get for the body of the earrings are significantly smaller than I'd like.  So I'm going to use pearls after all, in a "rose gold" shade.

EDIT:  (1/10/2014)  Components ordered.  Total cost with shipping:  $9.16 USD. 

* Accession Number: 74.51.4001.

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