A history of jewellery

jewelry from the ancient world

Jewelry is a common way to accessorize. Prehistoric jewelry composed of stone, shells, and bones is still present. It is most likely that it was worn as a status symbol or a shield from life’s hazards from a young age.

The growth of jewelry-making in antiquity was significantly aided by the discovery of metalworking techniques. The intricacy of the artwork and the sophistication of the metalworking skills increased with time.

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Gold was buried with the deceased to go with its owner into the afterlife since it was a rare and precious commodity. A large portion of archeological jewelry is found in hoards and graves. At times, such in the case of the gold collars from Celtic Ireland discovered folded in half, it seems as though there was a custom for getting rid of jewelry.

Sometime around 1783, this collar was discovered in a bog near Shannongrove, County Limerick, Ireland. Although its exact purpose is unknown, it was most likely a ceremonial collar. There is a hole beneath each of the round terminals on the inner side of the collar. A chain that wound around the back of the neck and between the two openings kept the collar in place as it most likely lay on the chest.

Antique jewelry, around 1200–1500

Europe’s medieval jewelry was a reflection of a very status-conscious and hierarchical culture. Nobility and royalty donned jewelry made of priceless stones, silver, and gold. Pewter or copper were common base metals worn by lower classes of society. Color (from enamel and priceless stones) and strength of defense were highly prized. Some diamonds are said to protect the wearer because of inscriptions that are mysterious or mystical.

In most cases, jewels were polished rather than cut until the late 14th century. Their worth was defined by their size and vibrant color. The use of enamels, which are essentially ground glassware fired at a high temperature onto a metal surface, allowed jewelers to add color to their creations. They employed a variety of methods to produce effects that are still often utilized today.

In the late medieval era, the pictures on the back of this cross were frequently utilized as a focal point for meditation. The Instruments of the Passion, which included the scourge, whip, lance, sponge, and nails, are depicted in the pictures on the lid. It’s possible that a small piece of one of them served as a relic and was kept within the now-empty cross. Pearls were associated with purity, while the crimson jewels could have represented Christ’s atoning blood.

Renaissance-era jewelry

Renaissance jewelry reflected the era’s love of opulence. With advancements in cutting processes, the brilliance of the stones rose and the enamels, which typically covered both sides of the gem, became more complex and colorful.

Both worldly authority and religion’s immense influence on daily life were reflected in jewelry, with many magnificent items worn as symbols of political might. The designs, which include a growing popularity of legendary characters and situations, represent the renewed interest in the classical world. Reviving the age-old craft of gem engraving, the use of portraiture also represented a broader cultural trend: a greater awareness of the person in art.

Certain kinds of stones were believed to offer protection against particular illnesses or dangers, such as toothaches and the evil eye. They could also promote or discourage traits like boldness or depression. This etching of a scorpion is from the first or second century BC, but it was utilized again in a medieval ring. During the Middle Ages, stones with Greek or Roman carvings were highly prized. They were sold throughout Europe and discovered during excavations or in surviving ancient jewelry. An longstanding reputation as a protective amulet belonged to the scorpion. In addition to being thought to cure poisoning victims, it was thought to have a cooling effect on fever since it was connected to water and represented the sign of Scorpio in the zodiac. Herbs and oil were also infused into scorpions to make poisoning remedies. A formula for an anti-poison oil that proved effective against ‘all forms of poisons consumed by mouth, stings and bites’ was published by the Medici Grand Duke Francesco I, who passed away in 1587.

Jewelry from the 17th century

New jewelry styles were introduced by trend shifts around the middle of the 17th century. Although ornate gold jewelry was necessary for dark textiles, the new, gentler pastel hues served as exquisite settings for pearls and jewels. Gemstone availability increased with the growth of international trade. Gemstones shone more brilliantly in candlelight because to advancements in cutting techniques.

The most striking gems were frequently the bulky breast or bodice embellishments that needed to be sewed or attached to rigid clothing materials. The diamonds’ whirling foliate pattern demonstrates a renewed love for floral embellishments and bow motifs. This necklace’s focal bow is a stunning illustration of a diamond from the middle of the 17th century. The painted opaque enamel is a relatively new invention, according to Jean Toutin of Châteaudun, a Frenchman. Around this time, enamels regularly employed this stunning color combination.

Jewelry from the eighteenth century

The multifaceted brilliant-cut had evolved towards the end of the preceding century. Diamonds glistened like never before and began to rule the world of jewelry creation. Magnificent sets of diamond gems were vital to life at the court and were often set in silver to bring out the white color of the stone. The biggest decorations were worn on the bodice, while the lesser ones might be strewn all over an ensemble.

Due of its significant inherent worth, very little diamond jewelry from this era remains. Owners would frequently sell it or re-set the stones in more stylish patterns.

Light swords with short, flexible, pointed blades first arose around 1640 as a reaction to emerging fencing styles that prioritized thrusting quickly. As “small swords,” they were worn with civilian attire more frequently, serving as a weapon of self-defense but also primarily serving as a status symbol for well-groomed gentlemen.

Men’s jewelry included little swords. By the 1750s, the swordsmith had given way to the goldsmith and jeweler, whose intricate hilts of gold and silver, set with priceless stones and exquisite enameling, were created. They were frequently awarded for exemplary naval and military service.

The sword bears the inscription, “PRESENTED to LIEUT.T FRANCIS DOUGLAS by the Committee of Merchants &c OF LONDON for his spirited and active conduct on board His Majesty’s Ship the REPULSE.” Hugh Inglis Esq., Chairman, Marine Society Office, May 1, 1798, Ja. S. Alms Esq., Commander during the Mutiny at the NORE in 1797.

Rewarded for his efforts in 1797, Francis Douglas put an end to a violent mutiny among sailors at the Nore, a Royal Navy harbor in the Thames Estuary. Seventy years later, an eyewitness narrative appeared in The Sheerness Guardian, describing how the ship Repulse, facing ‘as was computed two hundred shot’, managed a’miraculous’ escape from the mutineers heading towards land.

This sword was commissioned to be made by James Morisset, one of London’s most renowned producers of enamelled gold dress swords and boxes.

Jewelry from the 19th century

Despite the significant industrial and societal transformation that occurred throughout the 19th century, jewelry design frequently looked to the past. The early decades saw a rise in popularity of classical styles that evoked the splendors of antique Greece and Rome. New archeological discoveries have sparked interest in antiques. Goldsmiths manufactured jewelry that mimicked or was designed in the manner of archeological jewelry in an effort to bring back antiquated methods.

Additionally, jewelry with Renaissance and Medieval influences gained popularity. The fact that jewelers like Castellani and Giuliano created in both historical and archeological styles at the same time is evidence of the eclectic character of the era.

For a large portion of this time, realistic jewelry embellished with recognizable fruits and flowers was also very fashionable. Early in the century, because to a general interest in botany and the influence of Romantic poets like Wordsworth, these themes initially gained popularity. This big spray of various flowers was intended to be worn as a bodice adornment. It includes a pin fastening at the back. Since some of the diamond flowers are attached to springs, when the wearer moved, their shine would be greatly enhanced. You might take out the individual flower sprays and use them as hair accessories.

The delicate early designs had been replaced by more elaborate and intricate arrangements of flowers and foliage by the 1850s. Flowers were utilized to convey friendship and affection at the same time. Stones of varying hues mirrored the hues found in nature, and a unique ‘language of flowers’ expressed insightful meanings. Almost primarily women wore the more ornate jewelry, in contrast to previous eras.