Jeweled Bracelet

Date: 500–700

Geography: Made in probably Constantinople

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Gold, silver, pearl, amethyst, sapphire, glass, quartz, emerald plasma

Dimensions: Overall: 1 7/16 x 3 1/4 in. (3.7 x 8.2 cm)
strap: 15/16 x 7 7/8 in. (2.4 x 20 cm)
bezel: 1 5/16 in. (3.4 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Gold

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.1670


This elaborately decorated bracelet, along with its pair (acc. no. 17.190.1671), has richly jeweled exteriors and finely detailed opus interassile (openwork) patterns on its interior. The luminous beauty of pearls was highly prized in the Byzantine world. These bracelets are only two of thirty-four pieces of gold jewelry from Egypt said to have been found near Lycopolis (now Assiut) or Antinoopolis (Antinoe, now Sheik Ibada) in Egypt at the turn of the century. Whether discovered together, or later assembled, they represent the standard of luxury common among the elite in Egypt during the period of Byzantine rule and the close connections between the wealthy province and the capital in Constantinople. Multicolored, or polychrome, jewelry was very popular in the Early Byzantine world.