The primary style of necklace that has survived to this day, and one’s we see in images are the chain and bead style but there was also chains with some sort decoration and strung beads. The chain and bead style consisted of glass beads, gems, and/or pearls connected by wire loops. They could also have leaves, amulets, figures, or other shapes on them. String necklaces consist of glass beads, pearls, and gems or any combination therein. I theorize that linen was used as string and finds from Egypt find that linen was used to this effect. The difficult part is discerning the pattern as string doesn’t last the stress of time (Egypt is an exception). Luckily, there seems to be fairly regular patterns on the chain and bead necklaces of an every other type style. There are also images of what appears to be pearl necklaces. It’s plausible that the same type of bead was strung on a necklace as well. Lastly, there are chain necklaces. There are more details about chains in Part III but we will briefly go over them here as well.

Chain & Bead

Examples of the simple chain and bead necklaces

Chain & Bead with Pendants

Leaf/Fringe Style Necklaces

This Leaf/Fringe style necklaces go back to ancient Mesopotamia. Sumerian necklaces and headdress were often adorned with gold leaves (below left) as was Hellenistic jewelry (below right).

Left: Sumerian Headdress (2600 – 2500 BCE) Right: Greek Gold Strap Necklace (330–300 BCE)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Glass and Gem Bead Chain Necklaces

Cabochon/Pendant Chain Necklaces


Chain Necklaces


The majority of the clasps we see on Roman jewelry are a simple hook and eye. Now, this could be unique to chain necklaces or a favored style. We know little about clasps on beaded necklaces. Also, elaborate clasps like this allow two ideas to ponder, the first is that the wearer wore her hair up. That, from the imagery is seems very common. The second, she was not wearing a veil or palla over her head. Clasps with this level of intricacy would be likely be costly and in turn a show of wealth. Thus it was meant to be seen. This would contradict the idea of a woman always having to have her head covered.