The ancient Romans were enamoured of pearls. Known as the “gems of the sea”, they were prized above even diamonds by the nobility of the Republic. The General Pompey brought back 33 pearl crowns, and a portrait of himself made entirely of pearls, from his conquests. This began a trend that was to sweep the empire. A whole new language of describing pearls in detail was born, including one in which dangling pearls were arranged so that they would gently sway and rattle when worn - crotalia.