The Origin of Jewelry to Portray Class and Posterity of ancient regions

December 10, 2016

The Origin of Jewelry to Portray Class and Posterity of ancient regions

Egypt’s history in jewelry

From ancient times, jewelry has been a sign of wealth, class and posterity and many continue to value ornamental jewelry in this day and age. Various materials are used to make jewelry and each of these materials differs in quality and price as well. Jewelry has its origin from ancient Egypt, which is the land of the pharaohs. So much can be gathered about Egypt that relates to history in many ways and in fact, this land remains a historical heritage to this date.

Part of the history which is associated with Egypt is the fact that gold was one of the precious metals available here in the early days before most of the other regions discovered it, making it the origin of jewelry. From the kings that reigned in the land to the locals, Egypt has a long history of golden ornaments as well as vessels found in the palaces, homes and those which individuals wore on their bodies. History suggests the region had some of the most beautiful women in those days and jewelry was a complement to their beauty.

As one of the materials used to make varieties of jewelry, gold was also quite rare in the region, did not tarnish and was easy to work with because of its malleable characteristic. This particular nature of gold, made it possible to produce various ornaments of different shapes and sizes, according to the preference of various individuals. There were also ancient gods in the land made of gold and the bible also indicates that a golden calf was made for the children of Israel using gold they had taken away with them as they left Egypt.

In essence, this serves to indicate how wealthy the region was in terms of the quantity of gold which was available and for this reason; it was one of the wealthiest regions on land at the time. Some of the magnificent jewelry in the ancient times whose origin is in Egypt included rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants, armlets, diadems, pectoral ornaments, head ornaments among others.

Collars of gold were also produced in this region those days. The origin of gold in Egypt dates back to 3000 BC and Howard Carter led the discovery of the Tutankhamun’s tomb during his excavation expeditions, in addition to several gold funerary artifacts, which brought to light the kind of art work which existed in Egypt in the ancient days.

Jewelry in Greece in 1400 BC

Other regions where gold existed in the early days included Greece where various shapes such as flowers, beetles and shells were produced by joining beads together. These shapes were produced in commercially, which is also an indication that jewelry had its place also, in ancient Greece. Here, earrings and necklaces could be traced on burial sites in the northern parts of this region.

Multi colored jewelry has also its origin in Greece because by 300 BC, the variety was already in production and was composed of pearls, emeralds, amethysts and garnets. Colored stones, enamel, glass, cameos of Indian Sardonyx and filigree gold, were the other materials, which were used to make jewelry those days. The beads used to make ornaments in this case, were composed of sand and two pieces of Gold that were joined together.

The Roman coinage and Italian jewelry

Though Italy is one of the major players as an origin for varieties of jewelry in the early days, it has remained as a trend setter to date in works of gold. Ornamental works in this region are connected to the Italian Etruscans who lived in the Tuscany region eight centuries BC. Some of the jewelry produced by them at the time includes earrings, clasps, bracelets, necklaces hollow pendants, which could be filled with perfume, among others.

Coins were common in the early days too and the Romans would use 18 and 24 carat gold on them and various craftsmen used these same coins for decoration in jewelry. Romans were in control of wholesale jewelry in the early days because they made use of garnets, cloudy emeralds, amber, and Indian diamond crystals sourced from Sri Lanka about 2000 years ago. The implication in this case is that Italy had the expertise and experience to work on precious materials and this same trend continues today.

At some point, England was under Roman rule and during this time, fossilized wood which was known as jet was used to produce unique ornaments at the time and this raw material was mainly sourced from Northern England. The trends in jewelry today have a lot to borrow from those who engaged in production of jewelry for various purposes in the past.

Categories of ancient civilization in jewelry

As you take a look back at the origin of jewelry and those who were directly involved in its production, you will realize a distinct division across three ancient civilizations as far as production of jewelry is concerned. These are Egypt, India and China civilizations, which are the major regions known for production of various ornaments using precious stones.

For a long time even before other regions adopted jewelry around the world, inhabitants of these three regions adorned themselves in beautiful ornaments of various kinds. Some of the jewelry they had on them was meant for particular occasions and the beauty they added was certainly something worth beholding.

It is important to note that Egypt and Mesopotamia set the foundation of standards in gem collection, glass manufacture and metallurgy in those early days. For this reason, the jewelry production style these two had adopted bore a major influence more than 4,000 years later and one of the examples of the impact of this style is in the case of European civilization. Europeans borrowed a lot from Egypt and Mesopotamia jewelry production, which influenced their fashion trends in a great way.

Jewelry production in ancient India and China

On the other hand, India had a strong connection with jewelry from the ancient times and this became part of their religion and daily lives. As a result, they led the way in processing and gathering of gold, which helped them to master the art of jewelry production much earlier than anyone else within their surroundings.

Due to the newly found opportunity in trading with precious stones, India became one of the destinations where moist businessmen and women sought to gain access to for trading purposes. One of the main trading partners at the time with the region was Europe who reaped big from these trading relations to realize the European civilization during the Age of Discovery.

China also delved into jewelry production quite early in the days as well, and particularly in developments of arts. Slowly but surely, they their style began to spread and eventually, they influence the whole of Asia. The Chinese style which remains dominant to date is characterized by animals, dragons and scenes of nature. Continuous development of these styles is still being experienced as a result of popularity amongst various individuals.

The Impact of the fall of Ancient Egypt and Roman Empire

After a long period of dominating production of jewelry, finally, Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire came to their knees, which signified the fall of some of the most powerful regions in the world at the time. When this happened, Europe took over the lead in innovation of jewelry and actually became a major driving force in this pursuit.

However, before assuming its position at the helm of jewelry production, Europe took a long time partly due to wars, famine, isolation and plagues. After touching distant civilization through crusades Europe managed to tap into new ideas and knowledge, which birthed the Renaissance period in the region. This saw a major shift in fashion trends and jewelry designs as church, wealth from nobility and royalty continued to touch the lives of those in the middle class.

This is the same period when there was the appearance and disappearance of various designs at frequent intervals, which were both new and original in nature while others were influenced by ancient Egyptian styles from the ruins of its civilization. It is certain you can never take Egypt out of the picture whenever you consider the origin of jewelry because the region’s influence still bears a significant impact on styles that we interact with currently.

Start of Jewelry production

About the same time that humans in the African continent began adorning in clothes and creating some tools, is the same period when jewelry production started. At this time, animal skins with decorative pieces and hairs were the main clothing you would find humans wearing but these did not last as long as sea shells as part of prehistoric pieces of jewelry. Sea shells are presumed to have been in existence for more than 110,000 years now and they are an evidence of the existence and use of jewelry in the early days. They are still in use today for various decorative works, making them truly indispensible.

As the various civilizations came into place, each of them produced their own designs of decorative items in the ancient days and this later changed after the advent of technology in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. The result was the ability forge copper and bronze, which were used to produce some improved designs impossible to achieve previously.

Soon thereafter, gold was discovered and Egyptians took advantage of its malleable characteristic to come up with some of the most sophisticated designs, which remain a mystery to this day. Historians and designers are still trying to unravel the mystery of these designs, which are difficult to comprehend to some extent. These pieces of jewelry are found deep in Pharaoh burial chambers.

Ancient Greek Jewelry

Though Greece borrowed most of its knowledge of working on gold from Mesopotamia and Egypt, before the age of metallurgy set in, items of clay, stone and bone decoration were already in production in the region. The advent of bronze here is what spurred the production of more advanced designs in comparison to the designs that were available previously.

In Greece, jewelry portrayed power of nobility, rulers and wealth and most women from the wealthy class adorned themselves in jewelry of various shapes and styles. Pieces of jewelry were also used to celebrate gods, helped to ward off evil and were a symbol of social status and power as well. In the wake of Greek Mycenaean civilization, the use of jewelry increased with gold serving as the main raw material of the time.

Even with the widespread use of gold, lead, silver and bronze as well as other alloys were still in use and some of the common ornaments of the time included pendants, rings and necklaces. The collapse of civilization in Greece spelt doom for the Greek society for a period of 300 hundred years before the Golden Age set in once more. This age enabled them to create some antiques, which were quite special and are preserved to this day as masterpieces.

Some of the gemstones which were in use in Greece in the ancient days were cornelian, amethysts, emeralds, garnet, chalcedony and pearls. Another setback set in when Greece came under the control of the Roman Empire and when this happened, most of the ancient Greek jewelry works disappeared. They were melted and modified to resemble the newly found European style.


Since the ancient times to the current day, it is evident jewelry has a special place in the hearts of most individuals and this will continue for many days to come. From various designs and styles of ornamental jewelry to the varieties that are used on clothing, you expect to find a style that will definitely appeal to you in one way or another. With most pieces of both ancient and current jewelry, much of the influence of their creation originate from ancient Egypt, which makes it a force to reckon with when it comes to the production of various forms of jewelry.


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