A Brief History of Jewelry
The Primitive Era
It wasn’t unusual for prehistoric people to rely on readily available materials. Jewelry adorned with snail and shell charms represented the maternal role. Fur and teeth were worn to symbolize a man’s ability to hunt and feed his family. During this period, jewelry was worn as an amulet to ward off bad luck.
The first traces of jewelry made of precious metals and stones were discovered more than 5,000 years ago. The ancient Mesopotamians were fond of wearing gold and silver jewelry adorned with brightly colored gemstones. The leaves, spirals, and clusters of grapes were all common shapes for them. The ancient Chinese regarded jade and silver as highly valuable. Ancient Greek and Roman women’s clothing was fastened with precious metal brooches. Mayan jewelry was often made of jade, gold, bronze, silver, and copper. Ancient Egyptian gold was highly sought after, just like the treasures unearthed in King Tut’s tomb. Those who could afford it were allowed to wear jewelry in these ancient cultures, which was seen as social status.
Medieval religious symbolism played a significant role in the design of medieval jewels. For example, the purity of Christ’s blood was symbolized by crosses encrusted with pearls or rubies. However, it wasn’t just the hairpins, and hair combs adorned with silver, gold, or gemstones. Those who could afford it wore jewelry, not just the aristocracy. Upper-class people wore gold, silver, and precious gems; lower-class people wore copper and pewter.
The evolution of jewelry had a significant impact during the age of exploration. During this period, gems from all over the world rose to prominence. Diamonds from India, rubies and emeralds from Burma, emeralds from Colombia, and sapphires from Kashmir in northern India were sought after by jewelers and their customers due to their durability and refraction, and transparency of these rare gemstones.
The way people view jewelry has changed over time, as have the customs and cultures. Nowadays, it’s not just the wealthy who can afford to purchase expensive jewelry. Jewelry can now be made from various materials, including textiles, leather, plastic, glass, and crystal. As a result, people from all walks of life wear fashionable and expensive jewelry. Jewelry is a beautiful way to express oneself.