November 08, 2019 3 min read

Jewelry History

     Since ancient times the man was passionate by jewelry.  It was demonstrated that already 100,000 years ago, man has sought to adorn himself with shells.

     There are proofs that attests, that at least 25,000 years ago in the Stone Age, necklaces were used in the neck, and the necklaces was made by animal teeth, shells of snails, fish vertebrates, bones, pearls, amber.

     During the Bronze Age, metallic ornaments of different shapes, later of glass, appear.

     The ornaments are also used as exchange objects used as coins. When a relatively large amount of valuable jewelry is discovered, a treasure has actually been discovered. Only in the 20th century plastic ornaments appear.

 Humans have used jewelry for a number of different reasons:

  • functional, generally to fix clothing or hair in place;
  • as a marker of social statusand personal status (wedding ring);
  • as a signifier of some form of affiliation, whether ethnic, religious or social;
  • to provide talismanic protection (amulets);
  • as an artistic display;
  • as a carrier or symbol of personal meaning – such as love or even luck.

     Most cultures at some point have had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewelry. Numerous cultures store wedding dowries in the form of jewelry or make jewelry as a means to store or display coins. Alternatively, jewelry has been used as a currency or trade good;an example being the use of slave beads.

     Many items of jewelry, such as brooches and buckles, originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.

     Jewelry can also symbolize group membership (as in the case, of the Christian crucifix or the Jewish Star of David) or status (as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice of married people wearing wedding rings).

     Wearing of amulets and devotional medals to provide protection or ward off evil is common in some cultures. These may take the form of symbols (such as the ankh), stones, plants, animals, body parts (such as the Khamsa), or glyphs (such as stylised versions of the Throne Verse in Islamic art).

     The earliest known Jewelry was actually created not by humans (Homo Sapiens) but by Neanderthal living in Europe. Specifically, perforated beads made from small sea shells have been found dating to 115,000 years ago in the Cueva de los Aviones, a cave along the southeast coast of Spain. Later in Kenya, at Enkapune Ya Muto, beads made from perforated ostrich egg shells have been dated to more than 40,000 years ago. In Russia, a stone bracelet and marble ring are attributed to a similar age.

     Later, the European early modern humans had crude necklaces and bracelets of bone, teeth, berries, and stone hung on pieces of string or animal sinew, or pieces of carved bone used to secure clothing together. In some cases, jewelry had shell or mother-of-pearl pieces. A decorated engraved pendant (the Star Carr Pendant) dating to around 11,000 BC, and thought to be the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain, was found at the site of Star Carr in North Yorkshire in 2015.  In southern Russia, carved bracelets made of mammoth tusk have been found. The Venus of Hohle Fels features a perforation at the top, showing that it was intended to be worn as a pendant.

     Most modern commercial jewelry continues traditional forms and style. The advent of new materials, such as plastics, Precious Metal Clay (PMC), and coloring techniques, has led to increased variety in styles. Other advances, such as the development of improved pearl harvesting by people such as Mikimoto Kōkichi and the development of improved quality artificial gemstones such as moissanite (a diamond simulant), has placed jewelry within the economic grasp of a much larger segment of the population.


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