The Dawn of Jewelry

By: Suzanne
The vogue of jewelry is as old as the earliest civilization. However, it was not as refined as the contemporary ones. Historians assume that man began wearing jewelry after he migrated to Europe around 35,000 to 45,000 years ago. The purpose of putting on these metals of adornment was often associated with religious or mystical beliefs. The word 'jewelry' is an early derivation of the Latin 'jocale'(plaything), while 'jewel' acquired an anglicized accent in the 13th century from the French 'jouel'.

Ancient jewelry was made of shells, mollusks, pebbles, shells, berries, or animal bones. A recently discovered mollusk or nassarius kraussianus shells perforated into beads is now being regarded as one of the oldest samples of man-made jewelry. This ancient jewelry was excavated from a cave in Blombos, South Africa, now believed to age between 75,000 to 1, 00,000 years!

Initially, jewelry was made from easily available natural materials like animal bones, teeth, shells, carved stones, and wood. Research suggests that jewelry developed as a functional item used for fastening articles of clothing together. Later on, it was used for purely aesthetic purpose or as a spiritual or religious symbol.

Necklaces were the most popular jewelry item in pre-historic times. Gold, known for its luster, was highly in demand. The Greeks adorned themselves with exquisite jewelry. Many of their precious items were derived from gold filigree of wire openwork in naturalistic designs of flowers, leaves, and animals.

The Romans had tremendous affinity for jewelry. Rings of gold, jet, and other precious materials were worn by both the sexes. Often, one would find them wearing lots of rings on the same finger!

With changing times and civilizations, jewelry came to be recognized as a symbol of wealth and status. The Harappan Civilization, one of the earliest known modern civilizations, showcased clear evidence between the rich and the poor through the use of jewelry. While the rich wore gold and silver ornaments, the poor adorned themselves with copper and bronze articles. By 2000 B.C., the Egyptians began using gemstones in bracelets, brooches, headdresses, pendants, and rings. They also believed that precious gems had magical powers and would bring them good luck. Though gold was their favorite metal, Egyptians also used lapis lazuli, soapstone, copper, and camelian. The 18th Dynasty of Egyptians chiefly preferred gold and silver which were inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones.

As time rolled on, jewelry trends changed to inculcate newer styles. The modern age has witnessed women being associated with jewelry a lot more than men. And why not, women love to adorn themselves and be the cynosure of every eye. The modern man loves to flaunt a stylish bracelet or ring, not to speak of the little earrings that urban men rave about. One can thus deduce that civilizations may come and go, but the love for jewelry will remain as long as man exists.

Jewelry
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