Any discussion on symbol jewelry will eventually lead to a discussion of ancient Greek jewelry. With many colorful stories and myths involving their gods and beliefs, these pieces of jewelry are a large part of the symbol jewelry world. More so because their myths are so well known around the world. Like Egyptian jewelry, there is something special and almost magical about Greek jewelry and its symbols. Perhaps it is because the items connect us to an ancient world and fascinating cultures in which magic was believed to have existed.
Greece went through several different periods in its history, and almost all the periods are reflected in how the Greeks chose to adorn themselves with jewelry. In fact, when looking at the many different types of Greek jewelry, one gets the feeling that they invented just about every type of jewelry known to man. Often made of precious or shiny metals, and crafted delicately, most Greek jewelry contained precious stones and enamel inlays to create intricate shapes and to add color to the pieces.
The recurring theme among the different period variations is that of gods and goddesses. Almost all head dresses, brooches, bracelets, necklaces, ear rings, rings, arm bands, thigh bands, and pins represented a god or goddess to whom the wearer believed in or turned to for protection. The gods and goddesses were often represented through symbols, as well as through plant and animal motifs, such as the snake or eagle's wings.
Apart from just adorning themselves with these jewels, however, many ancient Greeks chose to offer these pieces as offerings to the gods. Believing that gods granted wishes or prayers when sacrifices of high value were made, many jewels were often left at temples or altars. Other times, the jewels were placed on the bodies of the dead as part of the burial ritual, though putting two coins on the eyes of deceased was more common.
Today, authentic ancient Greek jewelry is very hard to find unless you are in a museum. Most of the artifacts are well protected, and very few people will have pieces in a private collection. What you will, find, however, are replicas of the different jewelry styles and the gods they represented. It is through these replicas that the fashion styles of the ancient Greeks as well as (and more importantly) the beliefs and representations of their gods and myths live on.