The first pieces of jewellery ever worn by man are believed to from the Homo Sapiens in Africa, dating back to 75,000 years ago.
The history of jewellery is a long one. Rich in culture and influences from around the world, it been around for many years and entered into so many different eras including Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Romanticism period, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Jewish jewellery and Asian jewellery.
Established jewellery making was a big part of ancient Egyptian culture. More than 5,000 years ago, gold was the chosen metal in Egypt and this is still reflected in their modern jewellery today. Gold was luxurious and rare and symbolised power in the community. Jewellery was so symbolic to the Egyptians that it was continued to be worn through death and into the afterlife.
Early Jewellery – Function and Design
It’s suggested that the very first jewellery designs derived from the natural materials around us. This included materials such as animal bone, teeth, shells, carved stone and wood. It is believed that the first ever pieces of jewellery were for functional purposes only and it wasn’t until later that they were used for adornments. There are theories that the very first gem stones were picked from alluvial gravels and river beds.
Ancient Egypt used gold jewellery to represent wealth and social status, and soon religious meanings became relevant. Because of the Turkish influences found in Persian jewellery, it is strongly believed that there was a great deal of trade happening between Europe and the Middle East.
Jewellery: Derived from “Jouel”
The word “joule” was anglicised to create the word “jewel” and this is where the word “jewellery” derives from. One of the oldest forms of body adornment, jewellery is still used for the similar reasons today. Just like the Egyptians, the way we accessorise ourselves can be a reflection of our social status, how affluent our families are, and our religious beliefs. But in the modern day, the rings we wear on our finger can symbolise love, marriage, commitment while a bracelet or a pair of earrings or chamilia charms can reveal insights into our personal lives or our sense of style. Fashion can be defined by the way we dress ourselves and this includes every single detail – from a top and skirt, to our footwear and outerwear, our choice of accessories, the way we wear our hair and the necklace and handbag to match – every feature matters. This is what modern jewellery has evolved into today.