While appearances have changed, jewelry has been the object of adoration for centuries as well as a way to show status. Read on and learn as history unfolds itself.
The Early Years
At the dawn of man shells, feathers, bone and other natural items were broken, tied and used as adornment making primitive woman and man more attractive to one another. Even primitive man understood jewelry as a gift and collected the prettiest shells to give to a woman whose affection he wanted to win. Likewise women of the time would wear as many colorful pieces of primitive jewelry as they could as a way to make them stand out from the other women and hopefully get a man's attention.
Mesopotamia and Egypt
The Mesopotamians started to understand the beautiful things that could be made by working with gold and silver and mixing these metals with stones and gems that had been mined from their lands. They can take credit as the first civilization to really make jewelry.
But soon their skills were copied by another civilization, the Egyptians. The Egyptians took note of the pieces being made by the Mesopotamians and took jewelry making to the next level, creating beautifully detailed pieces of jewelry that not only had precious metals and semi-precious stones, but also depicted their gods and various hieroglyphs. These pieces would make a statement, literally, as well as with their beauty.
The Greeks unveiled the creation of filigree designs offering amazingly intricate pieces that were as much art as jewelry. Their love of nature came through in the jewelry pieces that were created with many of them that looked like flowers, leaves and branches. They too, added their Gods to their jewelry either in likeness or symbolism.
The Romans took jewelry making in a whole new direction. Instead of the detailed lines and thinly cut pieces of filigree the Greeks had been creating, the Romans went with smooth pieces of precious metals that would be formed into articles of jewelry. They also began incorporating pearls into their jewelry creations.
In medieval times the jewelry was as much about religion as it was adornment and status. The cross became a central figure in jewelry, as the Crusades were underway. But there was also a new feel to jewelry. As the crusaders crossed over continents, they returned to Europe with jewelry and designs that had come from Africa and the Middle East. These influences then made their way into European middle ages jewelry. As a way to always include their religion in jewelry, many pieces from the middle ages have various religious depictions or inscriptions in them.
Plentiful Precious Metals
With the discovery of the new world came the discovery of new silver and gold. The 15th century saw large and expensive jewelry creations. Royalty would order massive metal and jeweled pieces to show status and power. Eventually the masses wanted to get a share of these magnificent pieces of jewelry, although they could not afford them. This is when many common jewelers started to make similar pieces out of less expensive elements. This was the birth of costume jewelry.
The Victorian era saw jewelry move back to the beginning. More pieces were made of bone, shell, wood and other natural items. The reason for this return to the past was because this was a time when the Egyptian tombs were being unearthed by archaeologists. The excitement around the items found inside became the guide for many of the elements used to make new pieces of jewelry.