The History of Jewelry: Looking Beyond the Glitz

Gold, silver, and diamonds—oh my! The next time you are in a crowd, look around. Many people will be wearing jewelry. It enhances natural beauty and adds flare to any look. Accessorizing has become a way of life. When thinking about jewelry, words such as classy, vintage, eye-catching, glamorous, and extravagant come to mind.

There’s a piece or pieces to suit any taste, style, and occasion whether it’s earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches, or even tiaras and hairpins. Many people include these beautifiers in their everyday looks. Some even feel naked without completing their outfit with a trinket or charm.

Embellishing a look with simple or elaborate works of art can be fun and keep things interesting. It’s a way to say, “Here I am” or “This is my style” without words.

There are even psychological benefits to accessorizing. Wearing a bold piece or something for comfort can boost self-esteem. Jewelry isn’t limited to any style or person. It’s favored all around the world and is worn in different ways and for several purposes.

Have you ever looked at a piece of jewelry, held it up to the light to inspect it, and wondered about its history? The word alone rouses thoughts of culture because it’s so universal. Let’s go beyond the glamor and take a deeper look at the fascinating history of jewelry.

The Origin of Jewelry

Source: britannica.com

Jewelry is defined as an ornamental piece or a decorative object that is worn on the body or clothes. It is usually made from valuable metals or other materials, including shells, beads, glass, and plastic. There’s no limit to the creativity of jewelry creation.

The art of jewels spans every culture on the planet. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact origin. However, based on discovered evidence, it’s traced as far back as 135,000 years ago to the Croatian Neanderthals. Back then, trinkets were made from natural materials such as stones, teeth, bones, and animal tendons.

The Purpose of Jewelry Through the Ages

In ancient times, it was about functionality over fashion. One of the main reasons for wearing jewelry back then was to keep clothing together. Without the luxury of needles and sewing machines, prehistoric people used their trinkets as pins to tie together the materials they wore.

Personal adornments were also worn by many folks of various cultures for special occasions and to important ceremonies.

Ancient Egyptians had the belief that anything buried with them could be used in the afterlife. Many of the dead were buried with their jewelry. You can imagine the fine golden trinkets pharaohs, priests, wealthy landowners, and government officials were entombed with.

In many cultures, while both rich and poor wore jewelry as everyday accessories, it was common for wealthier folks to wear pieces that signified their power, class, and status.

That can still be said today. Different price ranges of jewelry separate the rich and less wealthy people in society. However, in modern times, the notion of jewelry is predominantly about fashion, self-expression, and sentimental value.

Men and women select the jewelry they want to complete an outfit. Some chose trinkets based on their taste and personalities. The majority of people hold on to jewelry as a physical reminder of someone, or a particular memory. Jewels are also passed down through generations as heirlooms.

How Jewelry Evolved Over Time

Source: nyjdi.com

Metal jewelry came into play at a much later date. Evidence of the first type of metal jewelry dates back to 7000 BCE. Jewelry creation has come a long way, and so has its circulation. There are notable periods in history that helped to pave the way for jewelry commerce.

The Crusades

An age of significance is The Crusades, which began in the 11th century and spanned several hundred years. During that time, The Crusaders carried a lot of goods from the Muslim world back to Europe. The Europeans wanted more of these foreign resources, which helped increase communication and trade between the West and East.

Renaissance Era of Jewelry

During the Renaissance era, which began in the 14th century, jewelers stepped up their game. Crafting jewelry took on a new level of splendor and creativity. This period in history saw the combination of gemstones, gold, pearls, and colored enamels. The pendant became popular during this time, replacing the Medieval brooch.

Jewelry During the Industrial Revolution

Throughout the Industrial Revolution (1750-1840), barriers in the jewelry world were torn down. It was the time of machines, which meant jewelry could be mass-produced. This was also the era that nixed the idea that only the wealthy could have jewelry. Accessory trends were available to more people, including those of lower socioeconomic status.

Modern-day Jewelry

Today, when jewelry is mentioned, diamonds, silver, platinum, gold, and gemstones come to mind. Designs have also developed into more intricate patterns as techniques and machinery have enhanced since the Industrial Revolution.

With resources for more production, the jewelry industry has grown into one of the biggest in the world. It will continue to grow as jewelry has become a staple gift for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and more.

With advanced technology, it isn’t necessary to walk into a jewelry store to buy accessories anymore. The internet gives just about everyone access to plenty of online stores with an abundance of jewels that will be delivered right to your doorstep.

In Conclusion

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Jewelry is well known and loved but probably isn’t given a second thought regarding its history. It’s deeply rooted in cultures that span ages and encompasses the entire world. The evolution of jewelry from its origin to the modern day is a learning adventure worth delving into.

Examining a piece of jewelry is like studying art. It can tell a story about its era, transporting you to a different time and place. The purposes of jewelry and the messages conveyed about various traditions are intriguing. Jewelry beautifies and can say a lot about someone or a group of people.

Some pieces have sentimental value, offering a way to hold on to memories. A family’s history and legacy can even live on through heirlooms. Jewelry has been around for a long time, and it’s here to stay.


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