A short history of jewelry

         Jewels made of gold and silver appeared with the Egyptians in the year  3000BC.  


         In
Ancient Greek, jewels were only for rich people.  This period included crowns, earrings, bracelets, rings, hairpins, necklaces, and brooches. Pendants were a special favorite. Greek ladies sometimes wore necklaces with a variety of pendants, ornamented with gold flowers or animal figurines.
 

During the Medieval period only the nobility wore jewelry. The religious cross pendant was very popular.  Ordinary medieval costume was simple, often of heavy, dark wool with a brooch or clasp at the neck, along with jeweled belts. Hatpins became an accepted part of men's wear. Rings with religious jewelry symbols and inscriptions were popular. Everybody wore rings, from lower class to nobility. Rings were made of iron, copper, sterling silver or gold. The material of the ring depended on the owner's social class.

 

During the Renaissance necklaces appear.  Collars had complicated twists and beads.  However, rings were the most popular jewel.  Men and women often wore rings on all ten fingers.  The rings of the Renaissance began to be used as symbols. There were four categories:

Ecclesiastical rings - as sacred emblems of the Church.
Curative rings - to cure ills of the body, soul, or estate.
Rings of romance and sentiment - for weddings, love, friendship…
Fancy or gadget rings - compass rings, puzzle rings, and tobacco stoppers (for filling pipes).

 

Elizabeth I loved jewels. Her wardrobe included 2,000 dresses, each with lots of jewels.  Pearls were her favourite.  Earrings were first introduced in Italy in the Elizabethan period, they were plain drop pearls.

 

17th Century The seventeenth century was the era of baroque design. Colours were very important. Emeralds, rubies, topazes, and sapphires were popular, but diamonds were the favourite.

 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, although ladies wore most of the diamonds, some upper class men wore waistcoat with diamonds as buttons, they also wore diamonds on their shoe and belt buckles, etc.  There was a decline in colored enamels and an increase in the use of diamonds and gems. 

 

         Today, jewelry design has taken many directions

In the last few decades, jewelry design has revived some old styles. A good example in the USA is the rediscovery of Native American crafts within the "hippie" style in the 1960s.