Etymology and History of Jewelry

Jewelry has been always popular over the centuries and everywhere in the world. Whether it is necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings pendants or even watches, jewelry has been extremely popular. It has been worn by women and men. It consists of decorative pieces worn for personal adornments. It may be attached to the body such as necklace, bracelet, ring, and earring or attached to clothes such as brooch and cufflink. 

So, why do people choose to wear jewelry whether on a special occasion or a daily basis? Why especially women? Why does jewelry have an impact on the way we look and feel? For centuries, jewelry has been an important part of humanities. It has been serving different purposes and those purposes are deeply significant to each human being. 

The fact that jewelry is an important piece in women’s lives and they love jewelry for ages can be explained by inherently. Because it cannot be explained like it happened yesterday. This situation is like without jewelry they feel something major missing. 

Jewelry is an important ornament for all special occasions a person goes through in life. These occasions could be a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday party or even a birth. Apart from gender is not important in this case, jewelry gives women confidence because it gives a gorgeous and feminine look. It brings style and beauty. 

Besides decoration to our body, jewelry represents the best investment you can make. It serves the best safety in times of emergency. When you buy you have money, you can sell when you need the money back. And, you never lose in this way. It will be always an advantage for you. 

Traditionally, jewelry has importance to show prestige, wealth, and power throughout the centuries. It has the ability to highlight your personality, your family background, or even your income when you wear the right piece of jewelry for the right moment. As a result, even though we highlight women more as jewelry user, it has great importance in people’s life because it can make you feel special, style, beautiful and confident. 


  • From Middle English “juelrye”
  • From Old French “juelerye”
  • American, sometimes Canadian “jewelry”
  • British/ Canadian spelling “jewellery”: It refers to everything in jewelry industry collectively. It refers to everything made of precious metals and gemstones.

From a western perspective, when people said jewelry, they meant only durable ornaments. They used metal, sometimes with gemstones, for jewelry. One of the oldest types of archeological artifacts is that the basic form of jewelry vary between cultures but they are often extremely long-lived. 

Since ancient times, the most common types of our times have been common in European cultures. Other forms of adornments such as for nose or ankle were much less common compared to other contemporary cultures. They made jewelry with a wide range of materials such as gemstones, amber, coral, beads, shells, and enamel. 

Over centuries, jewelry was a status symbol in most cultures. It has been made for nearly every body part, from hairpins to toe rings, and even for genitals. The patterns, designs, and preferences of wearing jewelry vary greatly. You can see that variety from sex to sex ( gender),  and from age to age (children and adults). Nevertheless, a woman in adult years has been the most consistent in the case of wearing jewelry. Nowadays, women wear jewelry, especially European old age women compared to other classes. 



According to archeologists, the first thing they found as a named under jewelry was not made by humans. The oldest jewelry they found was beads made from small seashells. They found those beads on the southeast coast of Spain. Later in Kenya, there have been more beads found but this was made from ostrich eggshells. In Russia, a stone bracelet and marble ring were found in similar years, at least a similar century. Later, when the people had been learned how to make jewelry, a decorated engraved pendant was found and it is thought to be the oldest Mesolithic art in the United Kingdom. 


Around 3000- 5000 years ago, Archeologists found the first sign of jewelry making. As we all know, luxury, rarity, and workability were very common and important in Ancient Egypt. Then, over time jewelry gained more importance in order to symbolize political and religious power. They used different kinds of metals and stones, for example, gold, colored glass, and semi-precious gems. They gave so much importance to color in their jewelry. Each color represents something different for them. 


By approximately 5,000 years ago, jewelry had gained significant popularity in Mesopotamia. The earliest archaeological evidence comes from the Royal Cemetery of Ur (modern-day Iraq). The graves contained various artifacts like precious lapis lazuli and lots of gold objects. In Assyria (modern-day North Iraq and Syria), men and women both wore extensive amounts of jewelry. 

In those times, jewelry was made from a thin metal leaf. Also, they produced those metals with several bright colored stones. They produced in different shapes such as mostly leaves, spirals, cones, and bunches of grapes. The jewelry was created for human use mostly, on the other hand, they used jewelry for adorning statues. They used a wide variety of sophisticated metalworking techniques. During the archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia, records regarding jewelry trade and production were also found. 


Even though beads shaped were produced in earlier times, gold and gems were started using by the Greeks in jewelry later. The forms and shapes of jewelry have varied since the Bronze Age. ‘Gold Olive Wreath’ which is given as a prize for winners in athletic competitions would be a good example of the high-quality working techniques that Greeks had. 

By the time, Greek started to produce their jewelry with colored stones such as amethysts, pearls, and emeralds. And, the first sign of cameos appeared during those times. Greek made their jewelry always simpler than in other cultures. They used simple designs and workmanship. However, as time passed, the jewelry designs have changed a lot. It has been grown in complexity and different materials were started to be used. 

In Greece, people never wore jewelry on a daily basis in ancient times. Jewelry was for special occasions and public appearances. Most of the time, it was worn by the woman in order to show wealth, social status, and beauty. Also, it was worn as a protection from the evil eye or worn as a religious symbol, like in many other cultures. Older pieces of jewelry that have been found in Greece were dedicated to the Gods. 

When Alexander the Great conquered the part of Asia, the Greeks took too much from their designs and styles. In earlier designs, other Europeans also influenced. When the Roman rule came to Greece, they influenced their designs heavily. 


Etruscan jewelry influenced by Greek a lot. There is so much clear indicator that you can see in Etruscan jewelry. For example, the modeling of heads was a technique that spread throughout the Etruscan territory. At the same time, it was a typical practice from the Greek severe period. Etruscans didn’t produce their jewelry to wear. They mostly produced their jewelry to accompany them in the afterlife. Most of the techniques they used were not invented by them. They took them the cultures that influenced them. 


Brooch was the most common jewelry by time. They used a diverse range of materials for producing their jewelry. The early Italians worked in gold and created clasps, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. They also produced larger pendants in order to be filled with perfume.  

The purpose of Roman jewelry was protection, like the Greeks. They wore jewelry to protect themselves from the evil eye. Even though women were jewelry more often than men did, men wore a finger-ring frequently. One step further, although they were expected to wear one ring, some Roman men wore a ring for each finger. Rings with an engraved gemstone were common. After the fall of the Roman Empire, of course, the jewelry designs were absorbed by neighboring countries and tribes. 

Middle Ages

After the Roman Empire, Post-Roman Europe continued to develop and enhance jewelry making skills. As a symbol of status and power, the Torc gained popularity throughout Europe. By the 8th century, among men, weapons with engraved jewelry were common. But, women dominated other types of jewelry. The most representative is the grave goods found in a 6th-7ty century cemetery near Chalon-sur-Saône. The Visigoth and some examples found at Anglo-Saxon Ship burial are perhaps the most representative jewelry. 

Nevertheless, in the Byzantine Empire, ancient Roman methods continued to be used for jewelry making. The only addition was the dominant forms of religious themes. Differently from the Franks and the Celts, the Byzantines didn’t use solid gold but the rather light-weight gold leaf and gave more importance to stones and gems. Similarly to the West, wealthy female were the predominant users of jewelry. Men, on the other hand, in terms of jewelry, used stamp rings (signet rings). The Byzantine like many other cultures buried their dead with their jewelry. 


On the development of jewelry in Europe, the Renaissance had an enormous impact. By the 17th century, with the Renaissance, exploration, and trade increased and it let to increase the availability of a wide variety of jewelry making pieces. Also, it led to increase the exposure to the art of other cultures. 

In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte brought the style and grandeur of jewelry and fashion in France. In those times, jewelry had gained popularity and importance under Napoleon’s rules. Jewelry was introduced as a matching part of outfits and how they look. The most common pieces of jewelry were diamond tiara, diamond earrings, diamond rings, a diamond brooch, and a diamond necklace. In order to show the importance of jewelry, both of Napoleon’s wives worn jewelry on a daily basis. 

Cameo is a piece of jewelry. It is typically in the shape of an oval. It consists of a portrait in profile carved in relief on a background. It can be in different colors. And, it was a very popular fashion trend during Napoleon’s times. Also, it was the period that costume jewelry was introduced. 

In addition to those, new terms were introduced to the jewelry industry to differentiate the arts. If the jewelers were working with cheaper materials, they were called as bijoutiers. If the jewelers were working with expensive materials, they were called as joailliers. These terms are still used in today’s world. 

Modern Times

Most modern commercial jewelry maintains traditional forms and styles. However, the designers further expanded the concept of wearable art. The emergence of new materials and coloring techniques led to an increase in a variety of styles. Other developments such as the development of pearl harvest by humans and the further development of quality artificial stones have placed jewelry in the economic conception of a much larger segment of the population. 

At the end of the 20th century, it was seen that oriental techniques were used in European jewelry design. There have been dozens of innovations that have progressed throughout 2000. In addition, 3D printing has become increasingly important as a manufacturing technique. A wide variety of services offering this manufacturing method have made jewelry design accessible to an increasing number of creatives. An important advantage of using 3D printing is that prototypes are relatively low cost for small series or unique and personalized designs. Shapes that are difficult or impossible to create manually can usually be accomplished with 3D printing.

Artisan jewelry continues to grow both as a hobby and as a profession. The increase in the number of students who chose to study jewelry design and production has increased day by day during years. There is also a thriving contemporary jewelry community in some countries. Many of these jewelers have adopted modern materials and techniques as well as combining traditional craftsmanship.

The metal couture, as it is considered by designers and fashion writers, is wider use of metal to adorn the jewelry wearer makes the piece of jewelry look larger than traditional ones. 

Vintage Products on Amazon

To feel like wearing ancient jewelry, in today’s world, there are still types of jewelry that you can find and wear to feel the same way, for example, to feel more confident, to protect yourself from the evil eye, or to feel wealthier.

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If you are obsessed with handmade jewelry, it is a perfect choice for you. IT is both handmade and vintage. It is highly recommended for jewelry by customers. The butterflies on it make it classic and the color it has makes it vintage.

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It is a perfect vintage ring with gemstone. You can find with different colors or different gemstones, depends on your taste.

Savaş Ateş

I like reading books. I like to read about jewelry too. After reading a lot of books about it, I have started to visit jewelry manufacturers and stores. It is my number 1 hobby.

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