Byzantine jewellery was a continuation of the Roman traditions. The Roman techniques and styles continued to form the foundation of Byzantine jewellery making with the addition of Christian iconography and some new techniques.
Jewellery played an important role in the Byzantine Empire. It acted as a way to express one’s status and as a diplomatic tool. The Byzantine Empire had gold mines within its borders and its geographical position was perfect for trade between the East and West. Successful traders, military officers, and high officials in the empire’s administration could probably afford luxurious jewellery. In an attempt to keep jewellery exclusive the emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D.) ruled that only he would decide who would wear the finest jewels by presenting his favorite “servants” with presents from the imperial workshops. Yet all other precious stones and gold, in general, were allowed to be worn by the rest of the people of the empire.