Jewelry was common in Ancient Rome. Romans wore a variety of jewelry including bracelets, necklaces, armlets and earrings. However, the favorite piece of jewelry was the ring.
According to Pliny the Elder, Romans first started wearing rings in the forth century B.C. It became common for Romans to wear rings on every finger excluding the middle finger (this finger was named the digitus impudicus--"imprudent finger"). In some cases, smaller rings to decorate each finger joint were also worn.
A small amount of poison was occasionally hidden inside a ring's gemstone. This was used in case the wearer needed a speedy exit. For example, when about 2,000 pounds of gold was stolen from Jupiter's temple, the temple official on watch was retained for questioning. Before any legal action could be taken, he bit down on his poisoned ring, killing himself.
Jewelry--poisoned or otherwise--is one of those things that I rarely include in character descriptions. However, it is an area that I shouldn't be ignoring. Jewelry can be a very telling detail, whether it is a woman sporting an engagement ring with a gemstone larger than the width of her finger or a small claddagh charm on a necklace.
When crafting characters, do you ever consider what kinds of jewelry the character might wear? Has a piece of jewelry ever figured prominently in one of your stories?
I am definitely going to be writing about a poisoned ring at some point!