Since the beginning of time people have been adorning themselves with jewelry. Wearing jewelry has always been a way for people to express themselves. Amazingly, there are still ancient beliefs about jewelry, and gemstones, that live on today. Let’s dive deeper in the fascinating history of jewelry.
The origins of jewelry are really quite simple. First, let’s define the word jewelry. Webster’s dictionary official defines jewelry as, “ornamental pieces (such as rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets) that are made of materials which may or may not be precious (such as gold, silver, glass, and plastic) [and] are often set with genuine or imitation gems and worn for personal adornment.”
Jewelry, these ornaments that we wear, have always been a result of creative passion, symbolism, need and curiosity. Originally, jewelry was more primal; it was made from aspects of nature such as bones, stones, feathers and shells. Things were likely chosen for their beauty, appearance, symbolism and even function. The International Gem Society (IGS) put it best when they described the earliest evidence of jewelry:
“The earliest traces of jewelry can be traced to the civilizations that bloomed in the Mediterranean and what is now called Iran around 3,000 to 400 BC. These were usually simple stone amulets and seals. Many of these amulets and seals carried spiritual meanings, stars, and floral designs. Jewelry was offered to the gods and was used to dress up statues. The Royal Tombs in ancient Sumner, dating back to 3000 BC, delivered to us the greatest collection of all times. There they found mummies encrusted with every imaginable type of jewelry worn [including] headdresses, necklaces, earrings, rings, crowns, and pins.”
It’s easy to speculate about what these ancient pieces might have meant so long ago, but we may never truly know. The IGS also made a good point on the speculation of historical jewelry when they stated,
“The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago. This simple necklace made of fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco. What did this necklace signify? Was it for the chief of the village or a witch doctor? Maybe a princess wore it as a trophy her husband gave her for having a boy child. We might never know the real reason…but we can use our imagination and try to understand the way people thought in those days.”
Jewelry can have so many different meanings including a marriage, a memory, luck, spiritual protection, inspiration, education, ancestry, social status, and more.
As technology advanced through time, the creation of jewelry began to advance as well. Jewelry was being made with silver, gold and gemstones. In classic history jewelry was often designed with gemstones and the gems were revered for their metaphysical properties. In Egypt, for example, Lapis Lazuli was used to promote healthy communication and it was also used in trading. In fact, many groups and cultures imported gems and jewels from Egypt including the Romans. As well, Chinese culture often used Jade for house decor and art carvings. Ancient Greece also favored gold, garnet, and emerald for their association to abundance and prosperity. All of these properties and meanings are still valued today in modern day society.
To learn more about the difference between gemstones and crystals, check out this article here.
The statement ring has had many life cycles throughout history. For example, in classical history bold rings were worn to represent status, beliefs and motives. More recently, in the 1920s, during prohibition, cocktail rings really revitalized the statement ring for modern society. Cocktail rings were worn by women who wanted to make a statement; this led to the modern day statement ring Overall, a statement ring serves to boldly interpret someones style, personality, mood, beliefs and more. There are many different types of statement rings that have a very specific purpose.
A couple specific examples of statement rings are the signet ring and the spoon ring. A signet ring is designed with a family crest or symbol that can also be used for wax stamps or stamping pottery. Spoon rings were used in the 17th century as wedding bands by servants who couldn’t afford gems.
When it comes down to the jewelry you choose to adorn yourself with, the choice is very personal. You might choose a ring because of its historical or metaphysical value or you might choose something because of how it looks or makes you feel. But, we believe that if you ask yourself how a piece of jewelry makes you feel then you’ll know which piece is right for you.