Jewelry History A Look into its Origins
Jewelry, or rather the adornment of the human body with jewels; found throughout the millennia, starting with a prehistoric man. Archeological digs have uncovered such ornamentation next to burial sites dating back thousands of years – necklaces, rings, etc.
Jewelry symbolized status in all religions, in all cultures. The materials and methods of making jewelry evolved over the past 90,000 years, building upon ancient techniques. From seashell necklaces to the breathtaking Mikimoto pearls from Japan; jewelry highly regarded as a necessary part of beautification; for both men and women.
Pharaohs and kings sought gold and jewels to wear and with which to have their sarcophagi embellished. Kings and queens wore their crowns as symbols of their power and status; while ancient cultures wore amulets of gold with rubies and sapphires; as well as body piercings of fine gems.
Jewelry History – Its Evolution through the Decades
Jewelry has long been used as currency, even to this day in some cultures, for such things as buying and trading lands to securing kingdoms. Jewels and jewelry viewed as some of the most valuable assets with which to trade.
While some jewelry originally designed as functional accouterments, i.e. broaches, buckles and pins; it eventually evolved to include ornamental and decorative pieces; no longer reserved solely for royalty or for those of high class.
The Egyptians said to have sparked the making of jewelry. Artisans and craftsmen perfected these skills, developing various techniques and styles as well as introducing new materials. Their creations included many gemstones and various metals.
The color was of great importance; gems such as diamonds rarely used; as they did not exhibit or offer the color other gemstones. Colorful gemstones believed to transfer powers to those who wore them. Other symbolic pieces, such as the scarab, also believed to do the same thing.
Greek and Roman Jewelry’s
Greek jewelry introduced cultural symbolism; first including images of gods and eventually capturing scenes; such as the Alexander the Great, the Parthenon, sailing ships, ram’s heads, Medusa, Minoans, bees, sun gods, Pegasus; the depictions of heroes and mystical; mythical beings only limited by the imagination.
The crafted pieces became more intricate with detail. Although earrings were present in early Egyptian and Greek jewelry, they became more popular. Metals found in stones also increased in popularity. The cameo, a stone-carved piece, has enjoyed endless popularity.
The Role of Jewellery in the Middle Ages
Jewelry soon became important in symbolizing Christianity. Monasteries produced the majority of the world’s jewelry – this was their means of financial support. Jewelry guilds introduced. As the population grew, forgeries created; threatening the independent artisan’s welfare.
Jewelry History from the Renaissance Period
The Renaissance gave birth to the idea that jewelry should be used as bodily adornments too improve personal presentation. Where once jewelry was a sign of wealth; now collected to protect one’s wealth.
Serving as currency, it could be protected; easily sold and valuable on any market. Gemstones now cherished for their attributes such as shine, luster and color, luster; the mystical powers were no longer dominant.
Diamonds now much sought after; cutting methods and diamond-shaping techniques introduced.
From the 17th Century to the Present
Diamonds continued to grow in popularity. Several wars destroyed many ancient jewel artifacts. New designs introduced and crafted from new gemstones, metals, including floral, and fauna designs. Much of the jewelry created and designed during the Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Retro periods remain popular today.
The designs and materials used in the creation of beautiful, affordable jewelry continue to evolve. From the tip of your nose to the tips of your toes; today’s jewelry includes eyebrow piercings, nose and tongue piercings; earrings and ear lobe designs, down to bellybutton piercings and beyond; all the way to rings on your toes.
Although today’s body piercing may appear to be barbaric and outrageous; according to some archeological data; men in prehistoric Europe manipulated their privates with body art and piercings in rituals. Bodily adornment with jewelry a very personal fashion statement!