Jewellery trends seem to be something that belongs to the modern times. There are so many exquisite and highly detailed jewellery items nowadays. Yet it's something that most people take for granted as part of our modern day-to-day life. You can even find affordable diamond rings now, though these used to be only something that the richest kings and queens could own. But jewellery is actually nothing new. The earliest findings are dated thousands of years ago.
The history of jewellery is nothing short of spectacular.
In the absence of metals and gemstones, people used to carve various rudimentary types of necklaces, bracelets or items out of materials like fish bones, teeth or even perishable goods such as berries. Snail shells and regular pebbles were popular as they used to be often pierced and turned into adornments. Ancient people created jewellery pieces of all sizes also out of feathers, animal skins, clay or wood. Basically, anything available could have been turned into some sort of jewellery.
For some, this meant that they belonged to a certain tribe or community. Also, jewellery was worn to protect against bad luck. The item was a symbol of good luck and it was usually represented by a necklace. Yet pretty often, the production of jewellery was all about aesthetic purposes. Despite the extremely limited materials and crafting options, people have always loved to adorn themselves with beautiful items. For example, the oldest type of jewellery art in Britain is a pendant which is believed to be dated about 11,000 BC. African civilizations created beads out of egg shells over 40,000 years ago.
Culture of jewellery in different nations.
The Egyptians believed that each gemstone has magic powers. The gemstone's colour mattered as well as it was associated with a certain virtue or gift. Green was the colour of fertility. The Greeks wore jewellery for special events. Women loved them as they expressed wealth and social status. Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans liked metal jewellery that was connected to legends, beliefs or deities. Even small earrings were decorated with tiny deity symbols. As the jewellery making tools developed, the Greeks started to go for an exquisite type of metalwork called filigree, which was typically made of gold and featured complex designs.
The most iconic jewellery for Romans was the brooch, which was not only used for adornment purposes, but also to held clothing. The ring with an engraved stone was used to seal documents. This practice was later on performed by many civilizations who chose to use a ring with molded wax as a seal. This type of ring is referred to as a signet ring. Currently there are pretty many vintage signet rings that can be found. So, if you are interested in something of this sort, you should know that it is actually possible to own one if you really wish.
Another frequently encountered jewellery item worn by the Romans was the bracelet. The warriors wore gold bangles when they fought not only to protect the upper side of their arm, but also to impress their opponent. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the end of Ancient Egypt's era, Europe became the main place for jewellery innovation. During the Middle Ages, jewellery making improved drastically. Many styles came and went. Most of them were based on Egyptian themes. Yet many others had to do with distant civilizations that the Europeans came into contact with. Each one had its own influence on jewellery designs.
China had probably the most constant type of jewellery designs. The Chinese style has always focused on three major themes: nature, dragons and various types of motifs from the animal kingdom. As metallurgy and gem processing reached new heights, so did the diversity of earrings, rings, bracelets and all other items. However, finding affordable diamond rings was something unheard of. Only people belonging to noble families or royalty had the chance to wear jewellery. All the others couldn't even dream of laying eyes on precious metals or gemstones, let alone wear them for fashion purposes.
Types of jewellery for them for different social classes.
Yet regular people still adorned their bodies with whatever they could find. Base metals such as copper were worn by the lower ranks of society, while gold or silver was destined only for the high society. The people belonging to the higher social classes such as nobility and royalty had the privilege of adorning pretty much anything and turning it into a form of fine jewellery. From hair accessories to furniture, one could include jewellery-resembling features to all the aspects of their home. Jewellery designs were regarded to be not only a way to show off the social status but also to boost the beauty of a clothing item or household one. Usually, the wealthier one was, the more jewellery pieces he or she owned.
Religious objects such as crosses, neck chains, plates or the Royal Gold Cup have used several techniques of decorated metalwork as well. Other less known types of jewellery include personal items such as fasteners, buckles, buttons, badges or belt decorations. Ankle rings and arm rings were worn pretty often too by prosperous people. When it comes to medieval jewellery, wealthy men, women and children used to wear equally highly decorated clothing items. The crown was the ultimate masterpiece in the entire history of jewellery. It was the highest rank and the one that brought along most wealth and power. This is why emperors and kings owned the biggest quantity of jewellery. For some, the status came with eccentricities which manifested in highly detailed jewellery masterpieces.
We can see today the royalty's jewellery items on display in museums. They used to be worth fortunes. Now for a fraction of the cost, one can have similar pieces from fine jewellers or jewellery designers. The jewellery crafting process is mostly automated today, yet it is possible to obtain traditional handmade items too. However, they might cost more than the regular ones. Jewellery has always been a part of humanity and this will never change.
The history of jewellery is as rich as the history of mankind itself. Thanks to modern crafting tools, we are now able to enjoy outstanding pieces for lower costs than ever.