It was the mass production of glass in the Roman Empire that prompted the development of glass jewellery. It is primarily the ageing process of the glass which endows Roman glass jewellery with unique qualities. For instance, contaminants manufactured into the glass, combined with the surrounding environment over thousands of years, result in beautiful lustres and speckling, where the glass might formerly have been transparent. Colouration is also in part derived from the treatment and setting of the glass by the craftsman.
The ancient Romans considered jewellery to be an essential accessory, for it provided a public display of their wealth. Roman jewellery at first followed trends set by the Etruscans, using gold and glass beads, but as the power and spread of the Roman Empire increased, so too did jewellery designs became increasingly elaborate. Different cultural styles from Greece, Egypt, North Africa, and the Orient were all incorporated to reflect Rome’s prosperity as a dominant, conquering city. Archaeological finds of Roman jewellery are relatively rare, considering the magnitude of Roman civilisation, and the historical and geographical span of the Empire.