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The Fascinating History of Jewelry

Man has always loved to be adorned with jewels. This led to jewelry developing as an industry. Jewelry is an ornament, for personal adornment. The word jewelry is an anglicized form of the Latin word, jocale which means plaything history says that about 40,000 years back, the first jewelry was worn by the Cro-Magnons, ancestors of Homo sapiens. Their jewelry included crude necklaces and bracelets made of bone, teeth and stone stitched to animal sinew. Recently excavated 100,000 year-old beads, made from Nassarius shells, are considered to be the oldest known jewelry.

Jewelry, earlier, was made for practical uses such as pinning of clothes together. Nowadays it is used not only for decoration but is also considered as a status symbol. There are different types of jewelry made today. New variations like art jewelry is known for its artistic ingenuity. Art here is valued more than the material. Inexpensive costume jewelry, made from inferior materials and the wire sculpture, made from either base metal wire and stones or precious metals and gemstones, are the other contemporary jewelry of present times.

Many pieces of jewelry, such as brooches were originally made for functional purposes are also symbolic. The Christian Cross or the Jewish Star is indicative of the religious faith that one follows. Married couples sport wedding rings.

In Ancient Egypt jewelry was first made around 3,000 to 5,000 years back. The Egyptians adored the shine, rarity, and workability of gold. The Egyptians had accumulated abundant gold from the deserts of Africa and later acquired more as tributes from captured kingdoms. In Egypt, jewelry soon symbolized power. The affluent class wore it not only in their lifetime but also after death, those were buried with them.

In Mesopotamia, jewelry was manufactured from metal inlaid with bright-coloured stones like agate, lapis, carnelian, and jasper. Their favourite shapes were leaves, spirals, cones, and bunches of grapes. It was created both to adorn humans and statues.

In Greece most of the jewelry was made of gold, silver, ivory, gems, bronze and clay. Later they adopted Asian designs following Alexander`s conquests. Initially influenced by European designs, the advent of the Roman rule in Greece, by 27 BC, brought significant changes.

Though influenced by Roman culture indigenous designs survived. The most common ornament of ancient Rome was the brooch, used to secure their flowing clothes together. They used gold, bronze, bone, glass beads and pearl. About 2,000 years back, they imported sapphires from Sri Lankan and diamonds from India. Emeralds and amber were used too.

The Italians earlier created clasps, necklaces, earrings and bracelets from crude gold. Even large pendants to store perfume were made. Known as the eastern successor of the Romans, the Byzantine Empire continued the Roman tradition though religious symbols became predominant. The people of Byzantine preferred light gold ornaments richly inlaid with gems. jewelry was mainly worn by wealthy ladies while men restricted themselves to a signet ring.

India has the longest continuous tradition of jewelry making. Around 1,500 BC the Indus Valley people made their earrings and necklaces of gold, beads other metals. Womenfolk wore clay and shell bracelets, usually painted black and loved tiaras, chokers, brooches and ear rings .Gradually, clay was replaced by glass and metals.


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