In the ancient world gold was the preferred metal for making jewellery. It was rare, did not tarnish and best of all it was malleable, so it could be worked fairly easily.
In ancient Greece, beads shaped as natural forms like shells, flowers and beetles were manufactured on a large scale. Beautiful and delicate necklaces and earrings were found in burial sites in Northern Greece. By 300 BC the Greeks were making multi coloured jewellery and used emeralds, garnets, amethysts and pearls.
Magnificent bracelets, pendants, necklaces, rings, armlets, earrings, diadems, head ornaments, pectoral ornaments and collars of gold were all produced in ancient Egypt, the land of the Pharaohs.
Eight centuries BC the Italian Etruscans in the Tuscany region produced granulated textured gold work. They made large fibulae or clasps, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They also made pendants that were hollow and could be filled with perfume. The Italians are still renowned for high quality stylish trend making gold work today.
In coinage the Romans used 18 and 24 carat gold. Being fairly easily available the coinage was the craftsman's raw material for decorative jewel work. 2000 years ago the Romans were using sapphires from Sri Lanka, cloudy emeralds, garnets, amber and Indian diamond crystals. When England was under Roman rule, fossilized wood called jet from the North of England was carved into interesting pieces.