Roman Influence: Napier Byzantium Jewelry Collection

Roman Influence: Napier Byzantium Jewelry Collection

Influenced by Roman traditions, the jewelry from the Byzantine Empire played an important role toward the expression of social status and wealth. With an abundance of successful trade and available wealth. In the late 520s AD, the emperor Justinian established a law whereby only the emperor could legally wear sapphires, emeralds and pearls; leaving gold and other precious stones to be worn by the public. This lead to colorful rich detail in jewelry from the extensive use of precious stones not governed by the emperor. Gold metalwork, richly colored cabochons made from other fine stones, and Christian symbolism were iconic aspects of Byzantine-era jewelry. The Napier Byzantium Jewelry Collection offered such riches in color and style.

Napier Byzantium Limited Edition Collection as featured by WWD, June 29, 1990. Sketch by Robert Melendz

Napier Byzantium Limited Edition Collection as featured by WWD, June 29, 1990. Sketch by Robert Melendz

The Napier Co. in 1990 offered the “Byzantium” collection. The Limited Edition collection embodied the rich detail of Byzantine jewelry right down to the collet-style settings known to be characteristic of jewelry from this era. The group primarily utilized high-quality stones and glass. Napier offered the jewelry to a limited number of establishments numbering between 250 to 300 stores–oppose to the standard distribution to 2400 department and high-end stores. Of the 60 million dollars in sales for 1990, the Byzantium jewelry collection was expected to generate one million dollars in sales alone.

In 529 AD Emperor Justinian ruled that only emperors could wear jewelry made of sapphire, emeralds and pearls.

In 529 AD Emperor Justinian ruled that only emperors could wear jewelry made of sapphire, emeralds and pearls. Brooch, 1990, white metal, cast, gold-plated, hard resin. Measures 2 7/8″ × 2 7/8″ w. Marked Napier ©. F90. $95.00–$125.00. “Byzantium” collection.

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