Jewellery is a universal form of adornment which dates backto very early dates. Jewellery began when time began and when humankind firstexisted.
Jewellery has served for many different reasons and in many ways,which of course has changed over time and was not made like it is today and forthe same purpose. Some jewellery was made as a functional object, and still istoday. Examples of some of the different uses for jewellery include; jewellery usedfor protection, some to show off a person’s wealth and others as a mark ofstatus and power within society. Jewellery has evolved in many ways over time,and different groups of people from the Egyptians to the Romans have all wornit for different reasons. Jewellery has played a significant role in all societiesof people, which I shall explore in this development of work.
The earliest findings of jewellery were around 25,000 yearsago. The first piece discovered was a very simple necklace, which was found ina cave in Monaco. Nobody knew what this necklace signified, whether it was justan accessory or if it had any meaning, and we still cannot be sure. All we cando is imagine, try to understand the ways in which people thought and the waysthey lived in those days as a way of trying to establish what they may haveneeded jewellery for.
Some of the other earliest traces of jewellery that havebeen found can be traced back to civilisations from the Mediterranean which isnow known as Iran around 3,000 to 400 BC. The jewellery that can be traced backto this era is every type of jewellery worn from necklaces, rings, earrings,crowns, brooches and headdresses. In early societies, jewellery was worn as a lucky charm toprotect people against illness and bad luck. It is believed that people worejewellery due to their belief that jewellery had magical properties and couldhelp to protect them. When researching, there are many stories throughout timeof people finding fortune and luck from jewellery and gemstones, for examplesymbolic jewellery which was believed to give the wearer control over differentaspects of life such as wealth, love and fertility. Another purpose, which camelater, for the wearing of jewellery was to show commitment, which is where theidea of wearing a ring on your fourth finger on your left hand came from toshow your commitment to your significant other half.
This finger on your lefthand is now commonly known as your ‘ring finger’. Similarly, slaves were madeto wear bracelets to show who they belonged to, like the commitment but withoutchoice, making them seem more like property to a person of suggested higherstatus. The Egyptians were big on wearing jewellery and throughresearch you can find a great deal of information about their jewellery wearingand why they wore it. The Egyptians were big believers in types of jewellery,such as stones and gemstones, bringing about good luck and having magicalpowers. Many museums in the UK now exhibit the Egyptians, and many have largecollections of Egyptian jewellery. For example, the World Museum in Liverpoolhas a large collection dedicated to ancient Egypt with 16,000 objects, of whichmany are pieces of jewellery, making it one of the largest collections in GreatBritain.
Egyptian jewellery was beautiful and full of colour. The materialscommonly used were copper and gold wire, coloured glass beads, gemstones andcolourfully painted clay beads. The Egyptians made the most of the resources thatwere available to them and experimented with many different mediums. Wide collarednecklaces were very popular, often with large gemstones or beads for decoration.Along with these rings, earrings and bracelets were also very popular.
Thebracelets were worn not just at the wrist as they are today but also on the upperarm and around the ankles which was different. Some of the jewellery was madeof faience, which is a ceramic material made out of natural materials, such ascrushes quartz, and then after covered with a coloured glaze, usually green orblue. The Egyptians used jewellery for adornment, social status and protection.Gold was the most popular metal to be used to make jewellery and the mostpopular metal to wear for both the living and the deceased. This was because itwas suggested that the gold was blessed by God and therefore became symbolicwithin religion in the ancient Egyptian era. Gold was used for all religiousobjects from statues to temples. It was believed that gold was the flesh of thegods because it was not tarnished as a result of air or moisture, unlikesilver. Silver was the most popular in the beginning when the Egyptians firstbegan experimenting with jewellery making and wearing, but gold soon took over.
Much of the Egyptians jewellery often included the ankh, which represented thesymbol of life for the Egyptians. This symbol was not just use in jewellery butalso in hieroglyphics and in designs. Historians and researchers are not quitesure exactly what the ankh meant to the Egyptians or what it symbolised butwhat they do know is that they were often put in the tombs with the deceased,which may suggest that it was the symbol for the key that opened the door tothe afterlife. What researchers do know is that the Egyptians were very fond ofusing certain objects to represent and symbolise important things. Anothercommonly found symbolic feature was the scarab, which is a carving of a smallbeetle. This holy beetle was regarded as sacred in ancient Egypt and havebecome an important source of information for historians and archaeologists ofthe ancient world.
Along with these, another well-known feature of Egyptianjewellery was the vulture which represented the goddess of Egypt, Nekhbet. Jewellery also played a significant role in Greek society asfar back as 1200 BC. Greek jewellery was rich and reflected the success of Greeksociety.
The Greek jewellery style followed their beliefs in the gods andsymbols. The Greeks used materials such as simple stone clay and bones in thedesigns of their jewellery. At the beginning, their designs were very basicwith the purpose of just being a form of self-expression and decoration butlater these designs became more and more complicated and jewellery then beganto reflect the wealth and power of those with higher status such as rulers. In ancientGreece jewellery was viewed as a symbol of nit just power and social status butalso as a way of warding off evil and as a celebration of the gods. Unlike theEgyptians, it was mainly the women that wore the jewellery in Greek times,whereas in ancient Egypt it was the Egyptian pharaohs that showed off theirpower and status by wearing heavy gold and bright jewellery. Although the Greeksgot many of their techniques for making jewellery from the likes of Egypt, theymanaged to keep their designs very different and unique of style, whichremained unchanged and similar for many centuries that followed. The primarymaterial used in Greek jewellery making was different metals, mostly gold, butalso silver, bronze and lead, as well as various alloys.
Carefully craftedrings, necklaces and pendants were the main types of jewellery worn throughoutthe Greek period. The coming of the Golden Age of Greece was a huge milestonein the making and design of Greek jewellery.1 Atthis time, the culture blossomed and enabled the advancement of jewel makingtechnology. The Greeks could now use moulds and thin gold leafs which enabledthem to manufacture some antique pieces of jewellery that have been kept andare preserved today. These pieces of Greek jewellery have been regarded asmasterpieces.
Their designs combined both gemstones with the use of gold. The mostcommon and popular gemstones used were emeralds, amethysts and pearls. 2 Jewellerywas often a very sentimental thing to the Greeks and was the type of item theywould often pass down through generations. Jewellery was also occasionally usedas an offering to the gods as it was seen as being valuable.
The Romans jewellery was very advanced in comparison to theother civilizations I have researched. This was due to the fact they hadextensive access to many resources and raw materials due to their knowledge ofall the different civilizations that lived around and near them such asEgyptians, Greeks, Celts and other European territories. Rome became the centrefor goldsmiths’ workshops because of how advanced the jewellery making anddesigns were.
The jewellery that was made during the Roman Empire is todayconsidered to be of a very high grade, both in terms of their designs and manufacturingprocesses, and has a lot of worth. In comparison to the likes of Greekjewellery and Egyptian jewellery, Roman jewellery was much simpler. One of themost commonly worn piece of jewellery in Roman times was the brooch which wasworn and used to secure clothing together. Rather than being just aboutdecoration, the Romans jewellery was worn more for a purpose, such as why thebrooch was worn. The only piece of jewellery that was considered as acceptablefor men to wear were rings. These rings worn by the men were to suggest theirrank or status. The Romans also adopted the idea from the Egyptians that otherpieces of jewellery, such as earrings, bracelets and amulets, could act as aform of protection from evil spirits and curses. Designs were often imprintedinto their jewellery, usually animals, commonly coiling snakes which symbolizedimmortality which became very important to the Romans.
The development of jewellery in Mesopotamia was interestingin that it was based on humans need to express themselves. Many aspects cameinto play with the designing and jewellery making process such as technology,religion and science. During this time, there was a rise in royalty andnobility so showcasing a person’s power, wealth and religious beliefs wasimportant in jewellery making as wearing something fancy was a good way to doso and boasted this. Mesopotamian culture first started to take an interest in jewellerymaking around 4000 years ago.
The craft of jewellery making became very popularand received a lot of attention. The most popular decorative items worn inMesopotamia were bracelets, hair rings, earrings and hair accessories. All of thesewere worn by both men and women. The people of this time were a combination ofboth silver and gold metals and, unlike the Egyptians, neither of these two metalsmarked anymore wealth and value than the other. Because many of the preciousmaterials such as metal and gemstones could not be found in Mesopotamia,jewellery makers had them imported from surrounding countries, such as Egyptand Persia. They also had ivory and beads which they would have imported fromas far as India, which was approximately 1500 miles away, which didn’t matterbecause these materials were very important to jewellery makers.
Jewellery is still a very popular piece of adornment today,and although it does still vary between different countries and parts of theworld, the variation today tends to be just of the way it is made and materialsused. Some of the most popular types of jewellery making include Perspex, whichis a solid plastic in which you can cut shapes and join elements together tocreate designs. Another is stone setting which is a process when you set stonesinto silver using the soldering process. One other popular process of jewellerymaking is fashion jewellery, also known as costume jewellery, which is the mostcommonly worn type of jewellery, which combines fabrics with beads and metals.This style of jewellery making has proven very popular and is found in manystores from leading jewellers such as H. Samuel and Swarovski, which areslightly higher priced than other retailers such as Debenhams and Topshop whichalso stock this style of jewellery. It is known for being made with inexpensivematerials and imitation gems but is popular in the fashion industry due to itsaffordability. Different types of popular jewellery materials include wax carving,fused glass, resin and polymer clay.
Costume jewellery is the style of jewellery making I’vechosen for my craft. Costume jewellery manufacturers offer consumers the samebenefit of fashionable jewellery while maintaining a budget due to its affordableprices. It is said that this type of jewellery mimics the appearance of finerpieces by using less expensive materials. Fine jewellery can be expensivebecause it uses precious gemstones and metals that are quite valuable. Costume jewellerysubstitute these materials with plated metals and fake gems to make thejewellery look expensive without paying the prices of fine jewellery.