Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Historical Gems and More Gems

Historical Gems and More Gems

Judy Ridgley

Funny how things evolve. When I started writing stories in ancient Rome, I dressed my heroines in elegant jewels, wearing silks, and colorful makeup.  And people asked in amazement, “They had this back then?” Oh yes, I assured. And they did.  

 The Roman domina rose each day to a luxurious bath and dawned brilliant colored silk stolas hemmed with golden embroidery. Our domina’s hair was drawn up with strings of jewels, tiaras, gold bands and bejeweled hairpins or had her hair hidden by a wig made of blonde Germanic hair.

Patrician women had a slave to guard her jewels and this slave could be killed or beaten if a piece went missing.  Of course, Plebeian women appeared gaudy like a street whore. But there was a practical reason for that. They had to wear all their jewelry so none could be stolen.  

Well, that is Rome’s stereotype anyway. And that’s why I’m editing Vows of Revenge that takes place in 295 BC when Pompeii was a simple port town and the valley beneath Vesuvius was but a territory to Rome. My heroine Aelia wore all sorts of jewels because my hero Lucianus wanted to buy her the world and did so with sapphires, emeralds, peridot, pearls, and rubies.
Ahh, it’s all so romantic. 

So, back to editing because i had forgotten that such gems and jewelry hadn’t come to Rome during the early Republic. (Don’t ya just love research?) According to Pliny the Elder and other resources, gems and such jewelry gracing Roman necks and ears—equaling the value of some estates—began to arrive in Rome after Sulla claimed the entire province of Italy during the middle to late Republic. 

Certainly, other countries wore lovely gems and jewels as the queens of Egypt and the modest Greece. Even the spartan Spartans wore gold jewelry, albeit plain.  But our early Romans were farmers. They preferred gold for practical reasons. It didn’t tarnish. Rome’s first wedding rings were iron. Diamonds were used for engraving and were never worn.   

Then, Rome began its empire, claiming the glorious ideas of those they conquered. Not unlike the Crusades, they brought this wealth home, profited, adorned, and flaunted their finds. And eventually, this fashion evolved into the well-known Roman stereotype that started the fashion industry that we still bask in today.

But that’s another story.

Judy Ridgley's first book will be coming out this summer Vows of Revenge (two time Historical Romance finalist  2011)  Set in...where else...Ancient Rome BC amid pirates, godfathers, and forbidden love. Visit her website  to see other books that will be out this year. Or visit her blog on Ancient Rome Julia Galeria Casca or her blog on Writers Riding. Writers Riding or her dreamin blog where dreams do come true Dreamin'
Or at twitter @JGCasca or FacebookJudy Ridgley  I would love to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative post. Looking forward to all the upcoming releases.