Content Warning: this blog post mentions violence, death, and suicide.
Excavated treasures gain new life in handmade, one-of-a-kind Vanity Coin necklaces, featuring ancient coins, freshwater pearls, and Kingman turquoise in 14k gold and bright silver Vanity settings. From empresses to goddesses, every new Vanity Coin necklace commemorates empowered female figures of the past—whose stories have been long forgotten or misunderstood—and honors the eternal strength of womanhood, just in time for Women’s History Month.
It’s no secret that the stories of ancient women are sparse in history’s pages. The inequality they faced as citizens, and from the male gaze and deference that recorded their lives, has left us with little access to their perspectives and a lack of understanding the truth of their lived experiences. Highlighting the power and presence of ancient female-figures—the women who commanded society and the law that ruled it, alongside the myths of the feminine archetype personified in goddesses—Hannah Blount Jewelry’s newest additions to the Vanity Coin collection commemorates empowered women of the past.
Venus | Goddess
Few are as iconic as the goddess of love and beauty, Venus. Perhaps the most well-known woman of mythology—known in Greek myths as Aphrodite—Venus was adored by the Romans and renowned for her tenderness. The Romans believed that without this goddess there was no joy or beauty. She was also known for her power over men; for some, Venus symbolizes power for her ability to take the constraints and two-dimensional expectations for women of the time and utilize her feminine wiles, ruling over the men that she encountered.
Ceres | Goddess
An agricultural deity of ancient Rome, Ceres was the goddess of the harvest, grain and all agricultural matters, and fertility. Known in Greek mythology as the goddess Demeter, Ceres was often worshiped alongside the goddess of the earth, Terra, and their popularity lasted over several eras of the Roman republic. Ceres was also honored during marriage and funeral rites, making her a symbol of life in all its forms.
Pax | Goddess
Pax was the Roman goddess of peace, her Greek equivalent was the goddess Eirene. Pax’s popularity rose after a civil war during emperor Augustus’s rule. Pax was frequently depicted with a detailed cornucopia and olive branches, highlighting her association with the season of spring.
Victoria | Goddess
The Roman goddess of victory, Victoria, and her Greek equivalent Nike, were very popular with both regular citizens and those in power (especially worshipped by the soldiers): Victoria even had an altar in the Senate House of ancient Rome. Depicted as a winged woman, her wings represent victory; many believe that during the Christianization of Roman society she was one of the influences for angels.
Pietas | Personification
Ancient Roman personifications were virtues or values assigned to the depiction of a human, most often a Roman maiden. Pietas is the personification of duty, sacred obligation, respect to the gods, to country, and to one’s relatives—especially parents—and she was a chief virtue for Roman citizens. Pietas had a temple at Rome, dedicated in 181 BC, and was often represented on coins as a female figure carrying a palm branch and a scepter, or as a matron casting incense upon an altar.
Aeqvitas | Personification
Ancient Roman personifications were virtues or values assigned to the depiction of a human, most often a Roman maiden. Aeqvitas, also known as Aequitas, was the personification of justice, fairness, and equality. Aeqvitas was depicted as a maiden with scales, now associated with the symbol for the astrological sign Libra. This personification was also sometimes associated with conformity and abiding.
Julia Domna | Roman Empress
Empress Julia Domna was one of Ancient Rome’s most influential rulers, her impact spanning two emperors. Born in Syria, Julia Domna was married to the emperor Septimius Severus and bore him two sons. Tragedy marred her life: her husband was assassinated, one of her sons was murdered by his own brother during their co-rule, and she herself was either forced to commit suicide or chose to when the emperor Macrinus took power (the circumstance of her death are not confirmed). Julia Domna was heavily involved in the politics and administration of the senate and civilian life during her son’s reign, and was instrumental in the advancement of philosophy in Roman society. She was a champion of artists and philosophers throughout her entire life.
Empress Julia Domna + Goddess Venus Ancient Coin Necklace
Faustina The Elder | Empress
Known for her efforts in educating young girls and her flair for personal style during her time as empress, Faustina the Elder was a trailblazer in her own right. She was the wife of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, aunt to Marcus Aurelius, and great Aunt to empress Lucilla. Faustina I’s style, particularly her signature braids, was often emulated by her fellow Roman woman at the time and for years to come. Throughout her life, Faustina I contributed to charities that championed the impoverished and were an advocate of children's education, especially for young Roman girls.
Fulvia Plautilla | Empress
Wife of Julia Domna’s son and the emperor Caracalla, Fulvia Plautilla’s life was subject to her husband’s cruelty as he killed her father and eventually her, after he exiled her and her brother for alleged treason. Fulvia Plautilla’s voice in life and death was suppressed by her husband for the sake of his political ambition.
Julia Avita Mamaea | Empress
An empress of Syrian and Roman descent, Julia Avita Mamaea ascended to power in ancient Rome through marriage. The niece of empress Julia Domna, Julia Avita Mamaea and her mother were instrumental in the accession of her son, Alexander, to emperor, and they were influential in his reign; she accompanied her son on many campaigns. Demonized by her contemporaries- and by some ancient Roman historians- for the very traits that are still celebrated in male rulers: she was known for her ambition and political savvy.
Lucilla | Empress
Empress Lucilla was married to the emperor Lucius Verus and fulfilled her title as co-ruler as he was away from Rome during much of his time as ruler. Lucilla’s second marriage was to her father’s political ally Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus Quintianus, a Syrian Roman. This marriage meant she was now a private citizen; it is rumored that she played a role in the plot to assassinate her brother in an attempt to help her husband consolidate power.
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
The J. Paul Getty Museum | www.getty.edu
“ Power of Women” by Susan L. Smith
Encyclopedia Britannica | www.britannica.com
The Aeneid by Virgil