Dawn of the Bling - Jewelry History -
A Fun Tour from Day One...
A cool, fun timeline of when and how jewelry
was "invented", by whom, the symbolism of jewelry
through the ages, why jewelry is important to
humans, and more jewelry fun facts!
Jewelry Lover? Blame it on a
Here's why - as far back as 135,000 years ago, in Croatia, populated
Neanderthals, eagle talons etched with score marks were found looking
a lot like they were used for jewelry.
So, the first bling ever, and literally, just the beginning.
Beads made of snail shells found in an Israeli cave date back about
100,000 years. Then more seashell beads were found across
oldest from Morocco date back some 80,000 years.
In Kenya, a strand of ostrich egg shell beads was discovered dating
around 40,000 years ago. Then a single seashell bead was found
Algeria - far from the ocean - dating about 35,000 years ago.
Back then, all those shells, bones and stones were thought to
wearers from danger, maybe worn to display social rankings in
or tribes. Then, from about 25,000 years ago, a necklace of very
fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco.
These early discoveries of jewelry tied to our human ancestors prove
that even cave dwellers just had to flaunt personal
adornments. Oh yeah,
early man definitely had bling fever!
Those primitive "fashionistas" used bones, shells, pebbles,
and animal teeth, skins and horns. Maybe some of their creations
gifts or awards to tribal heads, warriors, witch doctors, wives,
hunters, royalty, or were displays of social standing, family ties
Marching in lockstep with the millennia were the beliefs that jewelry
magical properties, that some gemstones brought good luck,
safe travel, respect, and, of course, love. Jewelry was linked with
many diverse qualities, meanings and powers as civilization marched on.
We can see clearly that the desire to wear jewelry predates
As the sands of time kept
flowing, came the discovery of very desirable,
very adaptable, very shiny gold. Here's the thing about gold -
discovered in different areas in different eras in pre-recorded history
but what IS known is that gold flakes were discovered in Spanish caves
thought to date back to around 40,000 BC.
A special note here about some very special hoarders -- in eastern
beginning around 4500 BC, goldsmiths excelled in their craft and
such amazing skills, that excavated burial plots uncovered phenomenal,
awesome quantities of gold. Now, there's also quality, in
quantity, we should consider.
Fast-forward to about 3000 BC, when spectacular jewelry emerges and
been repeatedly discovered on mummies and in tombs - crowns,
every type of jewelry and accessory that was familiar and or
during those times.
We know that in some ancient cultures, gold was often buried with the
to accompany the wearer into the afterlife. So here's a big
round of applause
to early Egyptian goldsmiths who so masterfully created the incredible,
priceless burial mask of Tutankhamun, as well as amulets, talismans,
many other unprecedented, jaw-dropping unearthed masterpieces. Egyptians
also used silver, as well as amethyst, carnelian, turquoise, and
gemstones. What a blingdom.
Can't prove it with a blood test, but it seems our ancestors helped
appreciate beautiful shiny metals, desire colorful crystals and
seek out sparkling gems, and led the way getting really creative with
Back then, whether it was date night, bartering, relationship
flaunting your stuff, celebrating gods or royalty,
hoarding, or wanting
bragging rights in the afterlife, humans had to have their bling. It's
definitely looking like a DNA thing...
In early Greece, gold, silver, bronze, and clay together with gems
used for jewelry making. About 2,000 years ago, the Romans seem
influenced jewelry design by creating the brooch or pin, possibly to
their clothes since they didn't have buttons then for those flowing
Of course, they treasured gold and wore gold coin jewelry,
bracelets, and other bodily adornments.
BTW, back then, Romans were using more than gold, they were using
bronze, pearls, sapphires, diamonds, amber and emeralds. Gold
designed by Byzantine jewelers were known for generous, exquisite use
of showy precious gems. In fact, China, Egypt, India, Romans,
Etruscans, so many ancient cultures had homegrown master
who forever influenced the stature, purpose, symbolism, and diversity
of jewelry design.
Across the centuries, gold was sought after - not just for
jewelry, but also for statues, coins, sarcophagi, goblets,
headdresses, pendants to hold perfume, vests, draperies, sword
decor, furnishings, thrones, etc. - spectacular ornaments and artifacts
uncovered throughout history, and these days, gold is also
dentistry and electronics.
We've seen that jewelry of all
kinds, precious and semi-precious metals
and gemstones, pearls, every manner of adornment has been
through the ages to ward off evil, pay dowries, prevent bad luck, maybe
prevent imprisonment, used to gain favors, protect against illness
toothaches, inspire bravery, ward off bad dreams, assure safe
convey political prowess, attract love and success, and also act as
In later centuries, jewelry acquired very personal, additional meaning -
became a universal symbol of commitment and human connections,
by spouses, slaves, the wealthy, church officials, displayed by those
authority, cherished for a host of reasons -- you get the picture.
And now to a "girl's best friend." Sometime around the 14th
jewelry crafters discovered how to cut diamonds. Before then,
polished the gems then worked them into their designs.
To give them the credit they're due, it's truly a testament to those
of yesteryear, because some of their early diamond cutting
still used by today's jewelry designers.
By the 18th century, diamonds ruled. Multiple facets became popular,
shiny cuts were very reflective, quite dazzling, and diamonds
preferred status. Time marched on and interest in jewelry during the
Medieval and Renaissance periods soared, and so did creativity,
very memorable and intricate designs produced.
By the end of the 19th century, industrialization made factory-cut jewels
popular because they were affordable, and more accessible by more
Coincident with mass-produced jewelry was the birth of Art Nouveau jewelry
design which made a huge impact in the early 1900s, especially
exhibitin Paris. Art
Deco style jewelry then soon appeared and thrived -
even in spite of a US depression and entanglement in a world war. Art
jewelry was treasured for its glamorous and fresh, innovative look.
Jewelry history confirms how mankind continued to tame and expertly
utilize natural metals and better enhance, integrate and
gemstones, which influenced and enriched many cultures
spurred the introduction and glamorization of plastic jewelry, precipitated
innovations that refined and redefined jewelry styles, and launched
processes and nurtured creativity that have forever enshrined
as an indisputable art form, a confirmed fashion element,
and a rewarding,
uplifting and original way to project a personal statement.
consumers are tempted with myriad selections of stunning
manufactured jewelry, and in the spirit of those original makers
very first shell necklaces, there are also countless exquisite offerings
of original handmade bling created by prideful artisans to decorate
Rich with exotic and desirable gemstones, pearls, corals, woods and
leathers, created with flourishes, embedments, engravings,
gemstone combinations clusters and pairings, intricate bails and
and much more, jewelry today has acquired multiple personalities.
Let's thank those inventive cave dwellers of 135,000 years ago who led
way -- to jewelry that can be status symbols, displays of
fashion, project a
sense of identity, fulfill a need for belonging, reward us with a
So whether it's playful, deliciously extravagant, demure or edgy, whether
it's displayed on ears, necks, wrists, fingers, arms, tongues, noses,
toes, hair, belly buttons, gowns, sandals, tiaras, you-name-it, the
rooted drive and instinctive passion to create, acquire and display
jewelry and gemstones has been a reliable constant for us mere
across the millennia.
Many thousands of years of fashioning shells, bones, clay, metals,
gemstones, plastics and more, have given humanity every type of bling,
exciting new jewelry mediums, plus myriad possibilities for
and self-expression that will always be cherished, admired, envied
desired. Yes, jewelry is formidable, undeniable proof of being
So it's confirmed, it's historical fact -- it's in our genes, we all gotta