A History of Jewelry

A History of Jewelry

Jewelry is an art that has evolved from prehistory, century after century, culture after culture to become the art that we know today. It seems very important to us to know where we come from to know where we are going to, this is why we are going to do a little review of the history of jewelry. The history of jewelry is part of the artistic history of humankind in every moment and in every age jewelry has a different meaning.  The materials and stories behind each piece of jewelry have also been changed. Jewels have been symbols of status as well they have been used as amulets of protection ...

Do you want to know more about them? Start this journey with us!

Prehistoric jewelry

It is believed that the most ancient jewelry was made by European Neanderthals. Remains of jewelry made from ostrich eggs 115,000 years ago were found in southeastern Spain.  Marble rings from 40,000 years ago were found in Kenya and Russia.

Jewelry made of shells

Thanks to Анна В for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Jewels in Egypt

The first signs of jewelry found in Egypt date back around 3,000 to 5,000 years and were pieces made of precious materials, more specifically gold. At that time, jewelry symbolized political and religious power. In addition, another use they had was as a funeral ritual to put them in the tombs and thus ensure immortality after death, since they were seen as necessary in the afterlife.

Greek jewelry

The precious jewelry found in ancient Greece dates back to 1600 BC.  During the Mycenaean period, casting techniques, twisted rods and wire were used. If we go back to the year 300, we find that the Greeks used stones such as amethysts, emeralds. and pearls. These jewelries were used only on special occasions and were given as gifts - especially to women - who showed their status and beauty with jewelry. But not only that, they were also worn to avoid the evil eye, as jewelry was believed to give supernatural powers.

Rome and its jewels

Roman jewelry had been influenced by various inspirations, however, the most popular accessory was the brooch. It was used as a talisman against the evil eye as in Greece. A wide variety of materials were used: gold, bronze, bones, and they were decorated with stones such as sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, or organic gems. With the fall of the empire, the territory was divided and great techniques were lost.

Brooch jewelry

Image by Alexander Lesnitsky from Pixabay 

Jewelry in the Renaissance

Later, during the Renaissance, we found a splendor of trade, which made it possible to trade precious gems across Europe, and jewelry began to be perceived as an art. They were made with emeralds imported from Colombia, Amazonite from Brazil, chrysoberyl from Sri Lanka, etc. The tremendous jewelry leap of the time came with Napoleon. The French Emperor introduced the wearing of jewelry sets. At that time, cheap jewelers were known as "Bijoutiers" - hence the origin of the word "jewelry" - and the expensive jeweler was called "Joailliers".

Golden jewelry

Thanks to Chirag Shenoy for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Jewels in Romanticism

At the end of the 18th century, romantic jewelry was inspired by archeological discoveries and medieval and renaissance art. With the beginning of the industrial revolution, the jewelry market diversified the first imitation jewelry appeared, as well as fine high-end jewelry. At this time great jewelry houses such as Tiffany (United States), Cartier (France), and Bvlgari (Italy) were founded.

Romantic Jewelry

Thanks to Ashton Mullins for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Precious stones in Art Nouveau (1895-1910)

 This style was characterized by adding color using the enameling technique. There are many feminine motifs that are presented through eroticism and death in an artistic way.  Orchids, lilies, swans, peacocks, snakes, or dragonflies stand out. One of the most famous authors of dragonflies was René Lalique. However, after The First World War, his style became soberer.

Art Deco Jewelry

 This period is between 1920 and 1950 and is characterized by being the time when jewelry was simplified and accessories began to be developed en masse. Plastics and aluminum began to be used under the influence of Walter Gropius and the German Bauhaus movement. Mastering the technique was valued more than the material used.

Masse Jewelry Rings

Thanks to Charisse Kenion for sharing their work on Unsplash.

The Chinese Empire and accessories 

If we must highlight a material that they love, it is jade. They liked it for its physical qualities: strength and beauty. In addition, they also used silver. The most common amulets that this empire developed were Chinese symbols such as the phoenix or the dragon. It was also characterized by not manufacturing or wearing earrings. Many times the jewels they developed were used to decorate graves. 

Chinese Jewelry

Photo by Jimmy Chan from Pexels

Indian Jewels

Indian jewelry is inspired by Hinduism. In addition, India has had large mines of precious metals and gems, which has enabled it to specialize in this market to export the pieces throughout Europe. In the beginning, this sector was dedicated solely to women, who wore many beads made of clay or shells that were later replaced by more resistant materials such as metal. The most popular motifs are the elephant, the snake or the peacock. Curiously, they consider gold and silver to be sacred materials and therefore they cannot be worn under the waist

Girl with Indian Jewelry

Thanks to Dollar Gill for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Jewelry in North and South America

The pieces made in this area used to be inlaid with turquoise, mother-of-pearl, amethyst, shells, or coral, which were stones much loved by the Indians. The nobility could only wear one material: gold, which was decorated with feathers. The more jewels they had, the more power they held. Still, gold was not considered as valuable as some feathers or gems such as turquoise or jade.

Contemporary jewelry

Since the 60's we find invaluable materials in modern jewelry. Jewelry already has a conceptual meaning. Author's, handicraft, handmade jewelry are of increasing value and are gaining popularity in recent years. This new era brought us the cultivation of pearls, the development of synthetic gemstones, metals in clays, wood, Swarovski crystals, and of course the most innovative material used in jewelry - carbon fiber. In our shop, you can see different kinds of carbon fiber jewelry like pendants, bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, etc.

Carbon fiber jewelry set - Tree of Life

No matter the material, jewelry was and still is part of women's outfit. In some cultures around the world, jewelry is the whole outfit. Here you can read a list of the 10 jewels every woman should own.


Related Post