The term ‘jewellery’ can be traced back to the Latin word ‘jocale’ meaning ‘plaything’ but jewellery has been a part of our history long before the Romans.
Jewelry is arguably one of the oldest inventions of man. From the moment humans evolved into creative beings with a have to express themselves, all kinds of natural materials for example animal bone, stone and wooden were gathered and formed straight into adornments. Some of the first known jewelry items include bangles made out of Woolly Mammoth tusks dating from the Stone Age and bead necklaces, made out of shells, some 100, 000 years of age. As a result of jewellery’s long history as well as the nature of the materials used, archaeologists have been able to use items of jewellery to build up a good knowledge of our forbears.
In its many guises, jewellery became an important part of all societies. Could the use of precious metals and gems, the beauty of a piece or the skill with which it was created gave it value plus gave the owner status. Tribesmen could show their affiliation by wearing the same style of jewellery and a person’s function within the group could be identified the chosen type of necklace, bangle or brooch they wore.
Some pieces were created to ward off evil spirits or work as a good luck charm and, as well as the obvious use as creative display, could have a functional purpose in holding clothing in place.
Examples of water piping jewellery dating from 7, 500 years ago show the introduction of metal as a jewellery component whilst the Egyptians were using gold in their accents as long ago as 5, 500 years ago when it was very rare along with a symbol of ultimate luxury. The malleability of gold married with the fact that it did not tarnish managed to get a preferred material and its recognition grew.
The Greeks widely used precious gems to embellish all jewellery from rings and bracelets in order to diadems and necklaces and by the particular 13th Century, the abundance associated with jewellery made from precious materials has been so widespread across the social lessons, that laws were introduced across Europe to curb the ownership of it and reserve it again as a symbol of wealth and power. These were known as the Sumptuary Laws.
These laws led directly to the introduction of many processes used in the creation of fake gems such as pearls, the emergence of paste and an increased popularity in semi-precious gemstones. It also saw the rise in recognition of marcasite as a diamond substitute.
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The opulent Napoleonic times noticed the resurgence in precious components being used. During this period, the ‘parure’ shot to popularity. This was an entire suite of jewelry which could include coordinating necklace, comb, tiara, diadem, pairs of anklet bracelets, brooches, rings, earrings and even belt clasp. All the pieces were intelligently designed so that they could be taken apart and worn in different ways for various outfits and looks. The individual components of a necklace may later end up being worn as a brooch, hair decoration or pendant.
Today, jewellery style embraces all materials, methods and traditions. Everything from reclaimed materials — glass and tin cans, through stone and wood to the more aspirational platinum and diamond are usually regularly seen in jewellery pieces and so are seen as an important finishing touch to an outfit and an expression of one’s identity.