Jewelry is the most elegant and most important art product of every culture. For this reason, it appeals to the feelings of seeing and owning the beauty that exists in all of us, whether male or female. All precious metals and stones, especially gold, have always had special importance since the day when people were civilized and the first foundations of socialization were laid. Wars broke out for them, civilizations were destroyed. Even those who worshiped them appeared in history. So how exactly was jewelry invented?
The invention of jewelry is almost as old as human history. The first jewelry must have been created as amulets for hunting abundance and protection, as well as ornaments, in the Paleolithic Age, when people did not settle down yet. Easily workable colored stones, natural materials such as teeth, horns, bones, and nails of game animals, and shells of land and sea mollusks were shaped by rubbing and scraping, shaped into necklaces by drilling and arraying.
In the Neolithic Age, when animal husbandry and agriculture began for the first time in the history of humanity, and when people left their natural rock shelters and built their houses and settled down, the surfaces of stones and animal bones collected from nature were cut, polished and polished in desired shapes, and sometimes incised patterns were engraved on them. Among the finds unearthed as a result of archaeological excavations in ancient settlements are necklaces and bracelets made of stone, bone, teeth, and mollusk shells. Let’s take a look at the background of the jewelry together!
The Invention and Story of Jewelry
Although the invention of jewelry was the objects worn by human beings due to their efforts to protect themselves from occult forces and evil eyes, and their belief in “auspiciousness”, talisman, and magic, humankind, who discovered that jewelry made the body look more beautiful and impressive over time, used jewelry as a sign of privilege, a sign of wealth. It was seen that the Egyptian Pharaohs, who took this much further, were put in the tomb with the most valuable jewelry and jewelry when they died. This situation, which is frequently seen in other civilizations, is proof of the belief that people will not fail to wear jewelry even after death.
Jewelry such as necklaces, crowns, bracelets, pins, belts, rings, earrings, and anklets were symbols worn by Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Etruscan and Hellenic kings and the ruling classes in society to show themselves. At the same time, jewelry is an indicator of religion and state power. The need for jewelry that mankind has felt throughout history has led to the emergence of the jewelry profession. Jewelry is all of the activities aimed at making works of art by processing precious, non-precious, non-metallic raw materials.
The history of jewelry can be dated back to 4000 BC. Examples such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and anklets that document this have been found in Anatolia, Thrace, and Mesopotamia. Although metals such as gold and silver come to mind as the main materials used in jewelry, throughout history precious and semi-precious natural stones (emerald, ruby, agate, quartz, amethyst, glass, and crystal beads) and organic stones (amber, pearl, coral, etc.) were the main materials of the jewelry.
When the possibilities of the modern age allowed us to imitate these natural materials, which are very rare in nature, this time with the creation of imitation jewelry with artificial stones, metals, and plastic beads, the curiosity of human beings in jewelry gained a new dimension. The birth of an endless art of jewelry design, called bijouterie, was actually a reward given by technology to jewelry enthusiasts.
Today, jewelry is worn both as a requirement of certain beliefs and to bring beauty to the fore. Many successful athletes, artists, bureaucrats, or business people wear various jewelry such as chains, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, piercings on their ears, necks, wrists, and fingers due to beliefs such as auspicious, talisman, evil eye, etc. These jewelry are seen as a sign of people’s style and stance in life. For example, married people wear a ring on their left hand, engaged ones wear a ring on their right hand, and rich people wear jewelry such as diamond and gold necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, which show the place of jewelry in people’s lifestyles.
On the other hand, when a man unbuttons his shirt from the collar to his navel and wears a chain necklace with a large medallion on the end, it is considered a symbol of lack of education, bad manners, and slang, which causes prejudices in the society. Of course, this prejudice cannot be a correct point of view in the evaluation of jewelry. Tastes vary from person to person. Today’s jewelry designers will have realized that when they discover the relationship between jewelry and the human body, fashion knows no boundaries anymore.
Wristbands, necklaces, earrings, and rings adapted according to the color, physique, and lifestyle of the person are made of the most precious metals such as gold and silver, as well as sometimes an ordinary bead, crystalline stone, or metal is shaped by skilled hands into a very elegant necklace, bracelet, earring, ring, etc. We are now witnessing a lot of it turning into a piece of jewelry.
Every person wears jewelry now, it is almost as if we do not use one of the jewelry such as badges, wedding rings, bronchial rings, etc. to get engaged, get married, to represent a group, political thought, or religious view. Even if it’s not like this, we got an evil eye bead on our collar when we were still babies. For whatever reason, we have to consider the fact that the accessories and jewelry we use make us look more attractive and personalized.
Jewelry in Ancient Times
In ancient times, jewelry must have been used for religious and protective purposes, as well as for adornment, that is, for making people like one’s self. A volcanic glass (obsidian) mirror unearthed during the excavations indicates that the people who wear the jewelry want to look more beautiful. In the Neolithic Age, which covers a very long period, people started to use metals such as copper and lead in jewelry making, in addition to these natural materials they gathered and shaped from their environment.
Since the beginning of 4000 BC, ornamental stones with interesting and vivid colors such as agate and chalcedony began to be used in jewelry making. In the Early Bronze Age, there was a great development in Anatolian mining with the discovery of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin. In a short time, bronze began to be used in daily life and jewelry making. Parallel to this development in the field of metallurgy, steps are also observed in the production of ornamental stones. Necklaces in which gold and stone are arranged alternately reflect the aesthetics of the age.
In this period, some of the oldest examples of important jewelry techniques such as filigree, granulation, and embossing were applied on the rich jewelry excavated from the king tombs belonging to the Sumerian culture, as well as some jewelry forms reached Anatolia through commercial communication and migrations. The very rich presence of jewelry in Anatolia during the Early Bronze Age is known from the examples found in the excavations in King Tombs.
The jewelry uncovered reflects the taste of the period and advanced jewelry. It is possible to find the same delicacy in the sun discs (standard) with bull and deer figures made by casting technique, which was found in the excavations. Jewelry dating to this period was made of gold, silver, and electron. On chains, bracelets, pins decorated with precious stones, hairpins, and crowns; embossing, mold pressing, hole work, wire knitting, twisting, and solid casting techniques were used.
Since this period, in the archaeological excavations carried out in different parts of Anatolia and Thrace, diadems made of thin gold plates in the form of flowers and leaves, usually decorated with printing technique, and oval gold plates placed on the eye sockets and mouth were found in the tombs of local lords and nobles.
The Continuing Journey of Jewelry Since Its Invention
Can jewelry, which has been in such demand for hundreds of years, simply be an ornament of our daily life? How did jewelry come all the way from the Middle Ages to today? What is its history? Why do we wear jewelry? Why is jewelry so important and indispensable? What does the jewelry we wear actually mean? The accessories we use, like everything in history, have many meanings, and the traces and stories of the meanings they gained in the first place follow them today.
In different periods and in different countries; Some of the information about people’s social lives, class differences, their relations with nature, and their religious beliefs are given to us by the jewelry used at that time. The roots of the jewelry-making tradition, according to the information we have date back to Chinese society 5000 years ago. Jewelry worn between 3000 – 4000 BC in Mesopotamia was made of tree trunks, animal bones and teeth, and leaves from trees. During this period, people made jewelry for themselves from many materials they found in nature.
The first piece of jewelry to reach us is an earring made of animal teeth. For centuries, jewelry has represented power in Egypt. Contrary to what is expected, the first wearers of jewelry are more men than women. Pharaohs used a lot of jewelry. And this is an indication that they are from the dominant and wealthy class. In addition, in the excavations in Egypt, it was seen that people were buried with jewelry. This is accepted as an indication that society believes in life after death.
In addition to the jewelry worn by the upper class, it was seen that slave necklaces were also found in the excavations and the findings obtained. Slave necklaces made of worthless materials such as iron and metal have a pendant on which information about the slave is written. At this end, the slave’s name and price are written. At that time, slave sales were made based on this information. Figurine jewelry symbolizing gods is among the models found in the excavations. People carried their beliefs on themselves by using jewelry in order to feel a spiritual power.
This culture continues today. Today, people belonging to many religions, including Islam, continue to carry the signs and prayers of their faith. During the excavations, an ornament with the inscription ‘I love you’ was found dating back to 370 AD. This shows us that jewelry has been given to show value for a long time, not just in the last centuries.
Sailors often used pearl or gold earrings. This is because the seafaring profession is dangerous and sailors face death at all times. The reason for using jewelry made of precious materials such as gold or pearls is that they can be buried without a burden to their families in case of death.
The cross worn by Christians and the six-pointed star worn by Jews is to show which religion the person belongs to. Necklaces with the inscription of God, on the other hand, are the choice of Muslims. In addition, the tradition of wearing a ring, which still continues today, is a way of expressing that one is married. Red jewelry symbolizes power and blood, while a green necklace represents fertility and productivity. Like many items from history to the present, jewelry carries a lot of cultural heritage to us and continues to be popular today.
The Evolution of Jewelry After Its Invented
Jewelry is a branch of art with a rich history dating back to the times when the existence of human beings was first known. Jewelry is the most important reflector of the cultures and traditions of civilizations. In jewelry lies the past. There are memories and experiences. It is a secret witness. In mythology, he helped Isis descend to the underworld, and sometimes it was a symbol of love, a sign of power. But it has never been abandoned.
With the increase in population over time, human beings started to search for new places. Along with this, migrations and invasions have triggered social unification and intercultural fusion, as well as many negative effects. Societies are making their original jewelry with the techniques and materials they know; now they have created diversity with the materials they have learned and taken from different societies and adapted them to themselves. Jewelry has now become a developing and defined branch of art.
The use of imitation stone and imitation jewelry made of less valuable metal, the production of which began in the Roman, Greek, and Hellenic periods and continues until today, has entered into the jewelry industry. While jewelry has lost value in terms of quality, it has also developed in terms of marketing and appealing to every audience.
The New Age has opened new horizons for all world societies. Land and sea trade developed, along with many cultural, economic, and sociological changes. The fact that many jeweler masters traveled to different countries through trade routes, and that they did jewelry business in the new kingdoms they found, led to the universal recognition and development of jewelry.
In the field of jewelry, the jewelers who gained character added something new to the quality process by printing the catalog for the first time in this period. The presence of people who questioned jewelry in the XVIII century also affected the style of jewelry. In the XX century, based on the colonial policy of Europe and the finds obtained from the excavations carried out by state-supported archaeologists, historical but technically advanced jewelry was made. The repetition of time is also reflected in our jewelry.
Archaeologists, supported by states as a result of the colonial policy of Europe in the 19th century, went all over the world to explore precious metals and precious stones in the hope of getting rich. North America, the Urals, and Siberia were untouched lands for exploration. Gemstones such as ‘demantoid garnet’ in Siberia and ‘Alexandrite’ in the Urals were not yet known in the 1860s. Tiger-eye gemstone deposits in southwestern Africa were discovered during these searches.
In Queensland, Australia, black opals were mined near the Lightning River. But the most important mineral deposit; In Africa, what the Boer Republic found were diamond deposits discovered at the Cape. With the introduction of these deposits by De Beers to the European market, jewelry and ornamental stone processing showed significant development. Until the end of the XIX century, diamonds were cut with tables and roses, and after that, the diamond cutting began. Although this cut caused too many pieces to be wasted in the stone, it reflected the light inside the stone perfectly, thus increasing the value of the stone.
With the discovery of large gold mines in California, Alaska, South Africa, and Australia, and the abundance of raw materials, jewelry began to experience its historical development. Jewelers no longer had to melt old ones to make new jewelry and reshape old stones to adapt them to the fashion of the day. XX century jewelry has entered a new era, and many pieces of jewelry made in that period have survived to the present day.
The end of the Queen Victoria era was coming to the beginning of the XX century. In this century, Edward VII and his wife, Queen Alexandra, were leading the world fashion in Great Britain, which spread over five continents and dominated world politics. This period was called ‘Bella Epoque’. The theme of jewelry designs was to reflect world events and cultures. The use of color was softer. During this period, jewelry design was divided into two.
The first is palace-specific jewels set with diamonds; The second is jewelry made in simpler forms, inspired by the Neo-Classical style of the Napoleonic era. In this period, innovative designs of famous companies such as Parisian jeweler Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Boucheron were dazzling.
The Importance of Jewelry in Community Life Since When Its Invented
In different cultures, people paint their own bodies and decorate certain parts of the body such as head, ear, nose, lip, neck, trunk, arm, finger, waist, and wrist with jewelry for the purpose of magic, protection, belief, showing off, nobility, adornment and most importantly, admiration. appears in different forms. Such practices sometimes go to distort the shape of organs. In primitive societies, ornamentation also had a magical meaning.
In places where social life was developed, jewelry was, above all, the easiest way to reflect class differences and economic level. Another function of these is to protect people from the evil eye and diseases caused by the devil and other evil spirits with the help of some religious and mysterious signs. A depiction of a god, a saint, or a symbolic sign depicted on jewelry will protect the person who wears it from all evils.
Another useful feature of jewelry is its symbolic aspects. These symbols often have continuity across the mountains. For example, the crescent form is not only related to the Artemis culture in Anatolia. It is a symbol associated with goddesses and women in a wide geography from early times to the present, from Asia to Egypt and Europe.
Jewelry is also used to draw attention to the area where they are worn on the head or body, and to display the beauty in this area. For example, in the Ottoman period, the beauty of women’s swan-like long necks and white necklaces were tried to be revealed both in the language and pen of poets, poets, and writers and in the brush of the miniature master and painter. This must be why Anatolian women were fond of wearing long pendulum earrings and rows of necklaces and pearls.
Some jewelry appears to be functionally beneficial as well. Fibulae, which are the pioneers and ornate forms of belt buckles and safety pins, not only ensured their comfortable use by holding loose clothing, especially cloaks but also became a tool for adornment. Pendentive and ring seals are also jewelry items that should be evaluated within the functional jewelry group in this sense.
The materials in the construction of the jewelry vary between periods and cultures in accordance with the technology of the age. Initially; Animal bones and shells of sea and land soft creatures that people collected from their surroundings were shaped and used to make jewelry. Later, bead necklaces were made by piercing the ornamental stones. With the development of technology, metals started to be processed and this brought an important breakthrough in jewelry.
The techniques and forms discovered by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia were taken as examples, and in a short time, each of the Anatolian garlands created its own unique designs. The materials used in jewelry are in close relation with the economy. Since it is not possible for people to stay away from jewelry even in times of crisis, it is observed that expensive materials are replaced by cheaper materials such as terracotta, bone, glass, iron, and bronze.
Since the early times, raw materials and products used in jewelry have been traded. For example, Phrygian fibulas are examples of jewelry spread over a wide area from Eastern Anatolia to Greece and are taken as data for dating in archaeological excavations. Similar events were common among different cultures of Anatolia. The jewelry that was first traded was soon produced by jewelers in the importing countries.
For example, the Lydians produced the jewelry of the Egyptians, with whom they had intense political, religious, and commercial relations, in their own countries. While gold and precious stones were used in the jewelry of the nobles and the rich in almost every period, cheaper materials such as silver, bronze, iron, semi-precious stones and glass, and especially gold and silver gilding of metals were preferred in the jewelry of the people.
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