People weren’t recording history when gemstones and jewelry came into fashion. When humans first began walking the earth, they gathered easily available items such as feathers and shells to adorn their bodies. It wasn’t until roughly 1300 that diamonds became popular. That’s when people learned to cut the gems to boost their brilliance. Many early pieces of jewelry remain popular today, such as pins. They were first used to fasten clothing, meanwhile rings were used for wax seals.
Historians have located jewelry dating back approximately 25,000 years. They found a necklace constructed using fish bones in a Monaco cave. Historians don’t know who wore this piece or why but think the jewelry was used to provide the wearer with an identity and self-esteem. They created pieces using items found on a hunt and wore them as trophies, believing this would bring them luck the next time they went out. Furthermore, these pieces symbolized their prowess and courage during a hunt.
People often created amulets to ward off illness and bad luck. They would make pieces to provide them with control over their wealth, luck, and fertility. In addition, they wore these pieces believing they had magical properties. Many people today continue to wear evil eye jewelry, and you may see the Evil Eye collection here.
Over the years, jewelry served as a symbol of commitment and human connection. Slaves wore bracelets so others would know who they belonged to. Wedding rings served as a sign of the commitment between two individuals.
African tribes today often wear lip plugs to distort the mouth. This makes the men look terrifying in a battle and the women unattractive to tribes that may want to capture them. These stand as only a few examples of the evolution of jewelry over the years.
Mediterranean civilizations served as the first to wear jewelry specifically to adorn the body. Pieces dating back 3,000 years have been found in modern-day Iran. Most pieces were seals and stone amulets, and they featured floral designs, stars, and spiritual meanings. People would offer these items to the gods or dress statues with them. Archaeologists found a treasure trove of jewelry in the Royal Tombs in ancient Sumner. Here, they found pieces that were 3,000 years old, including necklaces, crowns, and headpieces.
Ancient Egyptians also used talismans and amulets, although common symbols in these pieces included the scarab and ankh. They frequently made bracelets using several strands of colored gemstones and these pieces are becoming popular again today.
Symbols were used to demonstrate territorial places. The cobra designated Lower Egypt, while the vulture was a symbol of Upper Egypt. Royal jewelers incorporated precious metals and gemstones into their pieces, and many pieces included faience, a glass-like glaze.
Color, in the eyes of Egyptians, was a reflection of the wearer’s personality. They associated the sun with gold and yellow, which helps to explain why crowns and ornaments for pharaohs always incorporated these colors. Green stones were believed to restore speech when a pharaoh passed to the other world, while a heart amulet symbolized the soul.
Bahrain isn’t known for its wealth and nobility. It’s an island made up of commoners, and approximately 170,000 burial sites have been found on this island in the Persian Gulf. Some date back 4,000 years while others are from 300 BC. Individuals living on this island had a high standard of living. Archeologists have located bronze weapons along with a 4,000-year-old earring made of pearl and gold. This serves as the oldest piece of jewelry ever found.
Ancient Greeks were known for their writings, which frequently mentioned jewelry and how it played a role in their daily lives. These pieces served as a reflection of society, and the citizens developed their own style that showed their beliefs in the gods. Women during this time often wore necklaces with miniature vases hanging down, although many pieces combined gemstones and gold.
During the Roman Empire, gemstones increased in popularity and were treated with respect. Women would wear hairpins that could serve as a self-defense tool, and the cameo was commonly seen during this time period. Many pieces contained gold coins, and bracelets were frequently worn on the wrists and upper arms.
The Byzantine Empire
The Byzantines were known for their jewelry. When Emperor Constantine relocated the capital in 330 AD, he brought together Greece, the Near East, Egypt, and portions of North Africa and Russia. This led to jewelry using oriental symbolism and rich colors. The pieces made their way to Europe through war, trade, and marriages. Cloisonne enameling became popular thanks to the Byzantines.
When the Roman Empire fell, life became hard for Europeans. The church held most of the wealth on the continent, and this was seen in the adornments used in the buildings. However, some pieces were captured during the Crusades and made their way to average people. However, this is only one of the ways the Crusades impacted the jewelry market.
Trade between the East and West flourished during the Crusades. Europeans were introduced to new ideas and items, but peasants lacked access to the jewelry from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. Throughout the Middle Ages, commoners weren’t to wear jewelry or dress and act like nobility. This led to Sumptuary Laws which curbed opulence while promoting thrift.
In the sixteenth century, Henry VIII was known for his extravagant clothing, although the French were the ones setting fashion trends. Elizabeth I, King Henry VIII’s daughter, adored pearls and had them sewn onto her clothing. She was not alone in this. The Queen of Spain also embellished her clothing in this way.
King Louis XIV of France didn’t want his court outdone, so he had diamonds imported from India. The blue Hope Diamond was purchased from Jean-Baptiste Tavernier to be made into a necklace with the help of the Royal Jewelers Le Grand. However, it was stolen before the job was done.
The seventeenth century launched the baroque design era, followed by color gemstones and diamonds. Jewelry forms became standard during the second half of this period. The eighteenth century was known for conservative jewelry pieces that followed trends from the past. At the end of the era, a new setting was introduced, leading people to have existing pieces remade.
Nineteenth century jewelers looked to the past when creating designs, although the world was in an upheaval thanks to the industrial revolution and accompanying social change. Several distinct styles were introduced in the twentieth century, including Edwardian jewelry.
The twenty-first century remains in its early years. Only time will tell what the future holds when it comes to jewelry. However, one thing appears to be certain. New things are coming if the past is any indication. People should watch closely to see what these changes are.