Ear stud

6th century BCE
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General Description

Although ear studs were apparently less common than a bauletto earrings [1991.75.13.a-b], pictorial representations indicate that they were popular in Etruria during the 6th century BCE. Actual examples, however, are as rare as they are in Greece, where the type seems to have originated, as evidenced by their frequent representation on statues, in vase painting, and on coins. Ear studs consist of a disk, varying in diameter from two to six centimeters, with a hollow tube—usually of silver—projecting from the back. A corresponding rear piece has a narrower tube that fits into the one on the frontal disk.

This single stud is among the few existing examples, and illustrates a taste for lavish, yet highly organized decoration that was characteristic of Etruscan goldsmiths. It combines repoussé, vegetal appliqués with linear granulation, concentric bands of a pulviscolo granulation, rows of hollow beads, plain and beaded wire, and coiled strips with granulation. The large center may have originally held colored inlay. Despite the face that the goldsmith must have had great experience in producing and applying the innumerable decorative elements, such painstaking decoration was exceptionally laborious. Even so, the price of the gold was probably considerably higher than the cost of the labor.

Adapted from

Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 37; 125.

Fun Facts

  • Jewelry was far more than merely ornament to the Etruscans; it was often close to being a magic charm or amulet and implied the protection of the gods.