Pair of Disk Earrings
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Etruscan, 525 - 500 B.C.
1 7/8 in.

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Seven rosettes form the decoration of this pair of large Etruscan earrings. Placed in a circular arrangement around a central point, the rosettes were made separately and attached to a backing disk of sheet gold with a slightly raised edge. Along the outer edge of the disks, repoussé human masks fill the angles between the rosettes. Several difficult gold-working techniques, including granulation and filigree embellish the surface of the earrings. A hollow gold tube ending in a loop projects from the back of each earring. This post would have gone through a pierced ear and been held in place by a pin placed through the loop.

The highly skilled Etruscan goldsmiths of the 500s B.C. created luxurious and showy jewelry. Large disk earrings such as this pair were popular in Etruria from the 500s down to the 300s B.C. and are frequently seen on figures depicted in Etruscan art. This set of earrings probably came from Caere, a wealthy city on the western coast of Etruria. Caere's prosperity came from its iron and copper mines, whose ore was traded with the Greeks and Phoenicians in exchange for gold.