History of Jewelry

Ever since the time when caves were considered luxury real estate, people have felt the need to dress up...

With the few resources at hand, our ancestors sought to beautify themselves by wearing jewelry made from bones, teeth, shells, and more.

the history of jewelry

Over time, new precious materials began to be used throughout this jewelry history to make much more complex accessories. Despite expectations, gold, the most noble metal, was first on the list of discoveries. Due to its qualities such as malleability, special color and resistance to oxidation, it soon became the favorite material of all advanced civilizations.

Beginnings in the history of jewelry

Whether they were looking to flaunt their wealth or fulfill purely aesthetic desires, people's need to own the most impressive pieces led artisans to surpass themselves. The rudimentary technology pushed them to develop new techniques such as watermarking and graining. These gave rise to fine jewelry with a lacy appearance.

Easily, easily, precious stones were also incorporated into rings, bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry. For example, the Sumerians, one of the oldest civilizations known to man, had a weakness for Lapis Lazuli. This deep blue stone with golden striations has enchanted philosophers and poets.

Many times, however, they also had a practical role. The folds of robes and other garments needed support, and people did not overlook the opportunity to embellish them as they pleased. Jewels reminiscent of brooches or the end of a belt were often decorated according to the local port.

With the advent of the Middle Ages in the history of jewelry, people began to pay more attention to clothing, and, by implication, to jewelry. A popular practice of the nobility who could afford this luxury was engraving pieces with inscriptions.

gold brooch XIII century

For example, this gold brooch, which dates back to the 13th century, is inscribed with the text: "I am a brooch that will guard this chest so that no pickpocket can lay hands on it."

The beauty and value of these objects are qualities that make them ideal for gifting.

The perfect gift…

Lovers often gave each other small tokens of their love. Heart-shaped brooches or rings often bore inscriptions or short quotes that reflected the sentiments behind the gift. "My heart belongs to you", "Inseparable" or "My whole heart is yours forever" are just a few examples.

But although these little dedications seem to come from the heart, more often than not they came, in fact, from a repertory of jewelers' quotations. These "custom" jewelry from the beginning of this jewelry history are not very different from those of today. Whether we give them to ourselves or receive them from a loved one, the Love Letters silver necklace or the Loved gold bracelet convey messages whose meaning transcends the centuries.

Contrary to expectations, these jewels were not, however, the equivalent of today's engagement rings or wedding rings. These symbolized a promise, or a token of affection, rather than a commitment. The real rings that marked the union of two people in the 16th and 17th centuries were something more special.

gimmal rings

Lovers of the renaissance period in jewelry history favored the "gimmal" type rings. They are made of two or more links that together form a whole. Young people, once engaged, used to wear one wedding ring each until the day of the ceremony. From the moment of the union of the two, the reunited ring belonged to the young woman.

To this day, this tradition of exchanging jewelry has been kept almost intact. If in the past the ring carried numerous symbols or inscriptions, today the trend is towards minimalism. The stone that dominates this type of jewelry is the diamond.

Although it entered the jewelry scene relatively recently in the 40's, the diamond has benefited from intensive advertising, thus becoming the most popular choice. Moreover, aggressive promotion has made this stone the standard to follow when it comes to engagement rings today.

The history of jewelry in the 20th century

Looking back, a leitmotif of wearing jewelry from the past to antiquity was to flaunt a man's wealth. The expensive gifts with which the women were adorned functioned as living testimony to his power in society.

But, all this history of jewelry would change with the arrival of the 20th century. The ability to earn a living gave women the freedom to choose their own lifestyle. This dramatic change in social norms was also reflected in clothing style. Clothing took on a simple and loose cut on the body, and jewelry became the piece of resistance of any outfit.

The dresses that slightly exposed the shoulders, and that did not reach to cover the ankles, did not have the immediate purpose of defying the norms. They were designed in such a way as to be able to offer the freedom of movement necessary for an active lifestyle. Sports, driving luxury cars and dancing to jazz music were the favorite activities of the "Flapper" woman.

flapper women

Probably for the first time in the history of jewelry, it is no longer worn as an emblem of wealth, but for the wearer's pleasure.

Coco Chanel, a name that has not lost its sound over the years, managed to eliminate this financial dependence on male partners through her clothing.

His style is iconic, with simple cuts and an unprecedented modesty, but at the same time full of elegance. If ostentatious ornamentation had been the order of the day until then, the launch of this trend led to the need to reinvent jewelry.

Women were now encouraged to take control of their own jewelry. Thus, the Chanel woman could differentiate herself from those 'cocottes', some women with questionable morals, who took excessive pride in the extravagant gifts received from their partners, in exchange for the services provided.

A double-edged sword

Thus, many women chose to wear the jewelry with elegance, as a testimony of good taste and self-proclaimed independence. But the evolution of precious accessories in the modern era did not stop there. Feminine ingenuity found in jewelry a way to express the opinions and attitude of the wearer.

madeleine albright the history of jewelry

Madeleine Albright, a powerful woman who held the position of Secretary of State of the United States of America, used her passion for jewelry in a unique way. Her brooches became true diplomatic instruments through which she was able to transmit messages that transcended any cultural or linguistic barriers.

Symbols such as the dove (peace), the sun (hope), and even the three wise monkeys were all worn by Albright in situations of political instability. Thus, Albrighht was never afraid to express her point of view in a feminine and fully diplomatic way.

The history of jewelry is one that dates back to the beginning of mankind and continues to be written by each of us. How we choose to wear our jewelry defines us. Don't be shy to choose the jewelry that tells a story about you, kindly offered by Indira Bijoux !


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