Jewelry Lover? Blame it on a Caveman!
Here's why - as far back as 135,000 years ago, in Croatia, populated by 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 Africa, the 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 in Algeria - far from the ocean - dating about 35,000 years ago.
Back then, all those shells, bones and stones were thought to protect wearers from danger, maybe worn to display social rankings in villages or tribes. Then, from about 25,000 years ago, a necklace of very old 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, feathers, and animal teeth, skins and horns. Maybe some of their creations were gifts or awards to tribal heads, warriors, witch doctors, wives, revered hunters, royalty, or were displays of social standing, family ties or identification.
Marching in lockstep with the millennia were the beliefs that jewelry had magical properties, that some gemstones brought good luck, wealth, 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 modern man.
As the sands of time kept flowing, came the discovery of very desirable, very adaptable, very shiny gold. Here's the thing about gold - it was 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 Bulgaria, beginning around
4500 BC, goldsmiths excelled in their craft and perfected such amazing skills, that excavated burial
plots uncovered phenomenal, awesome quantities of gold. Now, there's also quality, in addition to quantity, we should consider.
Fast-forward to about 3000 BC, when spectacular jewelry emerges and has been repeatedly discovered on mummies and in tombs - crowns, pins, rings, every type of jewelry and accessory that was familiar and or ritualized during those times.
We know that in some ancient cultures, gold was often buried with the dead 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, and many other unprecedented, jaw-dropping unearthed masterpieces. Egyptians also used silver, as well as amethyst, carnelian, turquoise, and amazonite gemstones. What a blingdom.
Can't prove it with a blood test, but it seems our ancestors helped us appreciate beautiful shiny metals, desire colorful crystals and minerals, seek out sparkling gems, and led the way getting really creative with gold. Back then, whether it was date night, bartering, relationship rituals, 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 were used for jewelry making. About 2,000 years ago, the Romans seem to have influenced jewelry design by creating the brooch or pin, possibly to clasp their clothes since they didn't have buttons then for those flowing robes. Of course, they treasured gold and wore gold coin jewelry, upper arm 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 pieces designed by Byzantine jewelers were known for generous, exquisite use of showy precious gems. In fact, China, Egypt, India, Romans, Greeks, Etruscans, so many ancient cultures had homegrown master jewelers who forever influenced the stature, purpose, symbolism, and diversity of jewelry design.
Across the centuries, gold was sought after - not just for extraordinary jewelry, but also for statues, sarcophagi, coins, goblets, medallions, headdresses, pendants to hold perfume, vests, draperies, sword handles, decor, furnishings, thrones, etc. - spectacular ornaments and artifacts uncovered throughout history, and these days, gold is also used in 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 used through the ages to ward off evil, pay dowries, prevent bad luck, maybe prevent imprisonment, used to gain favors, protect against illness and toothaches, inspire bravery, ward off bad dreams, assure safe passage, convey political prowess, attract love and success, and also act as currency.
In later centuries, jewelry acquired very personal, additional meaning - it became a universal symbol of commitment and human connections, worn by spouses, slaves, the wealthy, church officials, displayed by those of authority, cherished for a host of reasons -- you get the picture.
And now to a "girl's best friend." Sometime around the 14th century, jewelry crafters discovered how to cut diamonds. Before then, they just polished the gems then worked them into their designs.
To give them the credit they're due, it's truly a testament to those jewelers of yesteryear, because some of their early diamond cutting techniques are still used by today's jewelry designers.
By the 18th century, diamonds ruled. Multiple facets became popular, fancy shiny cuts were very
reflective, quite dazzling, and diamonds earned preferred status. Time marched on and interest in jewelry during the Medieval and Renaissance periods soared, and so did creativity, with very memorable and intricate designs produced.
By the end of the 19th century, industrialization made factory-cut jewels very popular because they were affordable, and more accessible by more people.
Coincident with mass-produced jewelry was the birth of Art Nouveau jewelry design which made a huge impact in the early 1900s, especially after an exhibit in Paris. Art Deco style jewelry then soon appeared and thrived - even in spite of a US depression and entanglement in a world war. Art Deco 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 showcase gemstones, which influenced and enriched many cultures worldwide, 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 jewelry as an indisputable art form, a confirmed fashion element, and a rewarding, uplifting and original way to project a personal statement.
Today consumers are tempted with myriad selections of stunning manufactured jewelry, and in the spirit of those original makers of those very first shell necklaces, there are also countless exquisite offerings of original handmade bling created by prideful artisans to decorate their fellow humans.
Rich with exotic and desirable gemstones, pearls, corals, woods and leathers, created with flourishes, embedments, engravings, novel gemstone combinations clusters and pairings, intricate bails and clasps and much more, jewelry today has acquired multiple personalities.
Let's thank those inventive cave dwellers of 135,000 years ago who led the 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 feeling of self-esteem.
So whether it's playful, deliciously extravagant, demure or edgy, whether it's displayed on ears, necks, wrists, fingers, arms, tongues, noses, ankles, toes, hair, belly buttons, gowns, sandals, tiaras, you-name-it, the deep-rooted drive and instinctive passion to create, acquire and display our jewelry and gemstones has been a reliable constant for us mere mortals 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 decoration and self-expression that will always be cherished, admired, envied and desired. Yes, jewelry is formidable, undeniable proof of being human.
So it's confirmed, it's historical fact -- it's in our genes, we all gotta have our
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birthstone history & list of birthstones
properties of gemstones
Note: Dawn of the Bling
- A Fun Tour of Jewelry History From Day One - is written as a playful, lighthearted
tour of the history of jewelry meant to present the origins of jewelry in a relaxed, whimsical manner. This
jewelry history is compiled solely for entertainment. to try to unravel our ancestral destiny to seek body
adornments, to help us recognize, maybe even relate, to the time-honored desire to decorate ourselves and
those we commit to and care about. It is copyrighted material -
Copyright FavoriteBlings.com - and
may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior, express written permission.
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