Gold Necklace with Gold Cross, Two Amethysts, and an Emerald Plasma
Gold, amethyst, emerald plasma
Overall (chain): 17 5/8 x 1/2 x 3/16 in. (44.8 x 1.2 x 0.4 cm)
Overall (pendant): 1 x 13/16 x 1/4 in. (2.5 x 2 x 0.7 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
The cross, chased into the gold ground, was originally the reverse of the pendant, with a cameo or carved gemstone on the front.
As Christianity became the dominant religion in Byzantine society, Christian imagery was increasingly found on jewelry. Crosses appear by the fifth century; the Virgin Mary, saints, angels, and other holy figures became popular in the sixth century. The images were thought to protect the wearer, aid in prayers, and even perform miracles.
Inscription: (Monogram) Cross and two letters
J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)