When you think about where our love for jewelry comes from, one must think about how we might of discovered a shell, bone, tusk, stone pebble or nugget of amber and how that treasure was possibly wrapped into a necklace a long, long time ago. Jewelry artifacts began with a bone made into a necklace or a tumbled nugget of amber found on the shore. This is back when we lived within nature and living from the land. Jewelry in history started with simple discoveries and even trophied treasures from a great hunt. Mankind was in deep connection with nature and was just learning the mysteries of this world we live in. Jewelry making was already forming from the most simple common items for our daily lives.
Treasure. Connection to Nature. Talisman.
There is a rich history for each gemstone we have discovered in time. One of those organic gems, amber, was found in artifacts from the Stone Ages over 13,000 years ago. This warm organic gem was formed 30 to 90 million years ago when sap from ancient trees hardened and fossilized. The Baltic coast is the world’s most important and largest source of fine gem quality amber. Thought by different cultures to be some form of hardened liquid rays from the sun, this gem was traded between the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea along a trade route called the Amber Road. It was an important raw material called the “gold of the north.” From the Mediterranean and farther south it made it’s way to Italy, Greece, the Black Sea and Egypt from at least the sixteenth century and farther back. From the Black Sea, this gem found it’s way onto other trade routes to continue on into Asia.
Unique Treasure from the Beyond. Connections to the Sun.
Now imagine finding crystals of amethyst with a rich purple color around 3,000 BC and imagining what this gems power was. A color that is relatively rare in nature that no wonder it was associated with royalty, magic and mystery. The ancient Egyptians believed amethyst could keep a person from being poisoned. Empowered by advances in technology with access to gemstones and precious metals like gold, the Egyptian culture of royalty had admiration for luxury. The ancient Egyptians valued personal adornments and jewelry was worn by men and women of all social classes except the slaves. They crafted bracelets, earrings, neck collars, anklets, rings and arm bands. Even the deceased were adorned with jewelry. They inlaid gems of lapis lazuli, garnet, peridot, emeralds and pearls into their jewelry designs. Jewelry reflected social status and warded off evil spirits.
Rarity. Mystery. Luxury.
Much like the Egyptians, jewelry in Greece was a symbol of social status, power, celebration for the Gods and also protected against evil spirits. Greece mass produced jewelry made of gold, silver and bronze. Unlike the Greeks, Romans manufactured jewelry in molds and casting techniques. This enabled more people to afford jewelry. Women in Roman culture especially loved wearing jewelry and it was considered to be their property, meaning independently from their husband’s wealth. They had the right to barter, buy or sell their own jewelry. Jewelry for children was an aid to protect them from illness and to ward off evil forces. Just like the Greeks, they to offered jewelry to the Gods.
Status. Wealth. Protection.
Jewelry already has a rich history. Gems are being discovered the more humankind travels. The more humankind travels the more we trade and the more metal smithing techniques are shared. Within every culture there is a rich history of jewelry making and it is being adorned for several different meanings. Some of the simplest reasons is we love the craft. It is a profession that can bring income into a family or community. The craft of making jewelry from handmade techniques to casting and making beads and forming glass has created wide variety of jewelry styles. With style is fashion. So low and behold, jewelry making is getting finer with the nobility of England, France, Spain and beyond.
Style. Fashion. Beauty.
We are very fortunate to be in a time where we can buy jewelry from all over the world. Gemstones are still being discovered like the brilliant fiery opals of Ethiopian in the early 1990s. Opals have been called the most powerful gemstone because opals contain the colors for all the precious gems: blue of sapphire, red of ruby, green of emerald and purple of amethyst. We can buy handmade jewelry from the artists from Bali and Nepal to Native Americans in America’s Southwest to Mexico. We can buy mass produced jewelry from Thailand and China. We can buy an amazing variety of gemstones and each gem speaks to us differently. Maybe they evoke mysteries from our past, enlighten our souls from beyond and speak from within our spirit. And possibly they help maintain our health and speak to our chakras. Jewelry is still something that is a way for us to show how creative humankind can be and how wearing jewelry can make us creative.
Creativity. Art. Love.