Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 15.47.44 A gold and filigree diadem with elaborate floral filigree decoration, circa 300 BC

In 331 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire, stretching his rule from Greece to Asia Minor, to Egypt and India. This made for an incredible melting pot of artistic styles, Greek art stretched to Asia, whilst Asian and Egyptian styles influenced Greece's artisans.

With the demand for decorative arts and gold jewelry ever-growing in Greece, buyers desired exotic motifs, with their far-reaching influences, Greek jewelers and artists began to incorporate acanthus leaves and other flowers from lands from afar with Heracles knots.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 15.48.07

Alexander's rule over the Persian empire gave him access to the treasures of Babylon, which in turn placed lots of gold in circulation in Greece. Years after Alexander's reign, the Greeks continued to be a leader in creative industries such as jewelry design.

In the Hellenistic period, jewelry would stay in the family as an heirloom. The Greeks would even offer jewelry to the gods, with headpieces, necklaces and more items of jewelry found in the inventory of great temples.

Hellenistic jewelry was also burled with the dead, with ancient tombs having some of the best preserved pieces of Hellenistic jewelry.

This diadem is unusual in form as it combines intricate work on an extremely delicate material.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 15.51.02 Strap diadem with Heracles knot centrepiece, late 4th to early 3rd century

The Herakles knot, also referred to as the ''knot of Hercules'' and the ''marriage-knot,'' was a popular design in ancient Greek which was influenced by the ancient Egyptians.

The idea of the motif is that the two intertwined ropes are meant to protect the lovers from evil. This knot using in marriage ceremonies is most likely to be where the phrase ''tying the knot'' derived from.

Greek jewelry from the Minoan period onwards often features the knot motif. The knot can also be found in Greek home decor, including mosaics.

This piece has a rosette and acanthus motif in spiral-beaded wire and there is a border of beaded wire. The Herakles knot is decorated with similar
filigree with scrolls, vine leaves, rosettes and a central larger multi-tier rosette.

blog.php-61 A pair of important gold bracelets with cameos, ca 1st century BC to 1st century AD

The history of cameos can be stretched back to 15 000 BC, were carvings were made to record events. They were also worn as symbols of beliefs, with ancient Greek and Roman carvings depicting gods and goddesses as well as mythological legends.

blog.php-62

Cameos would often depict heroes or rulers, and were popular with men before they were favoured by women. In the Hellenistic era, some women would choose to wear a cameo depicting Eros to let the opposite sex aware she was available for courting.

These examples coming up for auction at Leclere depict a dolphin and a lion, exactly why these were chosen for this piece are unclear, but both creatures have a rich history with ancient Greece. The lion was considered the ruler of the land whilst the dolphin ruled over the seas. The label The Lion and the Dolphin by the Greek poet Aesop most likely led to the creatures being held in such high esteem.

The lion and dolphin are also symbols found in astronomy. Dividing the stars into mythological figures was started in Babylon, continued to be practiced in Egypt and continued by the ancient Greeks.

Leclere's Antique jewelry auction will take place on October 6, 2017. Check out the full catalog here.

Comment