Where Did Jewelry Originate From History of Jewelry



For ages, jewelry has been used for beauty and adornment, celebrations, gifts, status, wealth, and investment. There is no gender, race, or age discrimination in jewelry, however, it has been presented as a love gift to women the most in history. The most talked-about jewelry at weddings. Jewelry was used for investment by kings, queens, noble people who wanted to show themselves majestic and ostentatious, and by the people to preserve their wealth. The jewels used in religious ceremonies, engagement and wedding ceremonies, enthronement ceremonies and to show the splendor are still used for these purposes today. So where did jewelry originate from? Let’s look at the history of jewelry together.



The story of jewelry, which is among the indispensable accessories of women today, dates back to human history. While the first jewelry in history was made from seashells and animal teeth, the first truly jewelry in the world was originated and spread in Mesopotamia. Jewelry is one of the first products of primitive art in the last phase of the ice age, when modern humans completed their cultural and biological evolution, 30-40 thousand years ago. It is estimated that jewelry appeared in history with art products such as dance, music, and body decoration. Jewelry made of seashells, animal teeth, and soft stones had more religious and magical meanings. Goldsmithing which is the form of metalworking made significant progress in Mesopotamia and Egypt at the beginning of 3 thousand BC.

Precious Stones and Jewelry History in the World


The history of jewelry begins in the Upper Paleolithic Age about 30 thousand years ago. But true jewelry requires that precious metals can be worked with fine work, precious gemstones that can be shaped and polished, framed with an installer, or drilled to make arrays. This technological development, which requires a series of expertise studies, was reached in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Anatolia at the end of the 4th millennium BC. The first gem used by man was a colored seashell that was put into a cloak from the man’s animal skin in the stone age. As the ages passed and mankind found new mines, he continued to make various ornaments that he wore with a set of emotional motives. Therefore, jewelry has a history as old as human history.



As a result of religious reasons and efforts to appeal, the first samples of jewelry that constantly caught the attention of people were made of stone, bone, shellfish, and ivory, with the beginning of metalworking, as well as bronze, silver, electrum, and especially gold jewelry. Wearing jewelry, which started with the influence of concepts such as religion, talisman, magic, and luck, includes purposes such as a gift to the dead, offering to the gods, an indication of privilege, expression of wealth, gift and finally looking beautiful.

Jewelry is a very wide and comprehensive example of art and richness from prehistoric ages to the ages of history and to the present, including history, archeology, east, west, all religions, and beliefs. From the beginning of the Bronze Age, gold has been the symbol of power and wealth; This noble metal, which does not oxidize, does not lose its bright yellow color under any natural conditions, and can be easily processed, has become synonymous with the history of jewelry. The first civilizations, as it is known, were born in the valleys of fertile rivers: Sumerians, Tigris and Euphrates, Egyptians, Nile, Trojan City, Simav Stream, Indian Civilization developed and grew on the Indus river.

The First Gold Mine of the World


It is believed that the first gold mines produced in the world were found in West Asia, in the age of Sumerian Civilization, which developed in 4000 BC. Later, the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Arabs also operated gold mines. It is known that gold was processed in ancient Greece, in the era of Alexander the Great, in Iran, in the civilizations established in Asia Minor, and in the Roman Empire. Most of the ornaments of the Sumerians were made of gold and precious stones. In Troy, in different geography of the same ages, ornaments and accessories were made of gold and precious stones. Later, the same gold curiosity and gold ornaments are seen in Assyria, Babylon, and the Hittites in the west.



Sumerian ornaments show that people belonging to this civilization widely used traditional jewelry and they were always made of gold. There was a significant change in the understanding of art in the 1000th BC, while the knowledge of movement and anatomy started to be settled in the works, it was seen that gold still dominated. Later, this style spread to the Balkans. In addition, among the new ornaments dating back to Iran, countless necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets and needles were made for women.

Starting from the pre-dynasty period, some stones such as steatite (the reinforced type of talc mineral) were covered with blue glaze. Gold, which was widely used, was found in the south and southeast of Egypt. The rarely pure gold took its light yellow color from the silver contained in a certain proportion. Since silver, unlike gold, wears out and vanishes easily, very few silver jewelries has been found. The most precious metal used by Egyptians throughout history has been gold. Egyptian jewels vary in form. A wide variety of ruler crowns, crowns for women, different necklaces, rows of beads of amethyst, silver, gold or faience, wide necklaces, several rows of stone, tile, or metal chest necklaces were made.

From Where Did the First Jewelry Originate


Jewelry is a decoration found all over the world, of all ages. The sparkle of our lives, our eye-catching accessories are the child-friendly memories that we have passed down from generation to generation. So, are you curious about how jewels came into being and how they came from history to the present? Let’s take a pleasant journey in the history of jewels. The oldest known gem has been dated to 100,000 years ago. Remains of ocher were found on a jewel made of seashells strung on a rope. It is the ancestor of today’s jewelry as it is embroidered and used for personal decoration. Bones, teeth, oysters, eagle claws were used attached to a rope or a cauldron made of animal skin. Mammoth teeth and stones were also used. The presence of jewels dating to the Paleolithic age in Africa, Egypt, and Siberia shows the universal nature of jewelry use.



In today’s sense, the use of jewelry becomes widespread when people learn about mining and agriculture. The oldest known gold jewelry in Bulgaria belongs to the Varna culture that knows how to work gold. However, it is widely used in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The word jewel, whose Latin root is “Jocale”, means the game item in western languages. Mankind has used jewelry in many contexts. In functional terms; Watches used to determine the time or needles used to fasten hair and clothes are examples. Status indicator jewels include a crown or wedding ring. These jewels are used to mark a religious, cultural, or ethnic affiliation. Ankh, Masonic jewelry, the cross, the star of David, and the amulets containing the Ayet-ül Kürsi, which are among the most rooted symbols, can be cited as examples. They make personal meaning. There are examples such as black rings worn for mourning, heart-shaped jewelry worn to show love, carrying rabbit feet for luck. The most common purpose is to provide an aesthetic appearance.

In history, not only women but also men have used jewelry. Historical practice determined by cultural factors has led men to tend towards functional jewelry in general. However, the situation in the past was very different. For example, in ancient Rome, only soldiers of a certain rank can wear rings, and it is common for men to wear earrings in Islamic culture. In African culture, men wear nose rings, and piercing is a symbol of male courage in some cultures. In the lands stretching from Egypt to Anatolia, gold is widely adopted, and green stones as a symbol of fertility in agriculture have been very popular. Stainless and bacteria-repellent properties may be the reason why gold is popular in agricultural societies.

The Journey of Jewelry From Its Origination to Present


With the development of the Mycenaean civilization in Crete, it is seen that ornaments became a trade good. In the 16th century BC, the Mycenaean civilization was sending ornaments all around it, as far as Crete, Rhodes, Troy, and Syria. These items were always made of gold. Thanks to the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, a large amount of gold flowed to Ancient Greece. In the same period, gold mines continued to be extracted in Macedonian territory. Towards the end of the same century, for the first time in ancient Greek jewelry, it was seen that semi-precious colored stones other than gold were used. The first bracelets, necklaces, and crowns were made with emeralds and other colored stones imported from Egypt.



After the conquest of the Eastern Mediterranean countries by the Muslim troops in the middle of the 7th century, local ornamentation customs remained the same as before. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings were the favorite types of jewelry. The most important works from the first 400 years of the Middle Ages in Europe are small handicraft items, especially metal objects. The fascinating glitters of ornamental stones and embellishments made with all kinds of ornamental motifs on religious items adorned with jewelry and jeweler’s meticulousness exhibit the naive understanding of the Germans, which sees art as a means of decoration. Other sources influenced by the Early Medieval Germanic art, especially in gold embroidery, are the stylized animal figures of the Eurasian nomads and the Byzantine style.

In 11th and 12th century medieval Europe, the use of jewelry was very common in the upper layers of society. The pictures and descriptions from that period show that both men, women, and children were equipped with jewelry. The majority of these jewels are functional pieces. Many jewelry and accessories, such as belts, rings, brooches, large cloak buckles, corsage tie chains, are directly linked to clothing. Some have religious meanings, some are believed to bring good luck. The second half of the 13th century is the period when the feudal structure was dissolved in Europe and the urban culture rose. Gothic art style emerges. Earrings and bracelets are obsolete; on the other hand, crowns and diadems are popular in both the noble and the bourgeois segment. Elegant floral compositions and strings of beads are the main models of magnificent head ornaments.

The 15th century is the period when jewelry showed rapid development in all of Europe. French, Italian, Spanish, and British palaces also supported this art. From the end of the 14th century, it is common for women to decorate their hair with gold and other precious stones. In order to make the ornate styles given to the hair more durable, gold hairpins, hairpins, pearl, and other precious stones were widely used. In the 15th century, the fashion for pins with buckles continued. In the paintings made in this age, the pictures of the Virgin Mary with a cape attached with a needle can be seen. During the Renaissance, Italian engravers have created masterful works on stone carving. Milan was the center of this kind of carving art. Mythological stories are often engraved on the stones.



Enameled gold chains, necklaces, and cameos that are spread over the shoulder or worn around the neck, decorated with stones and pearls, are also typical jewelry of the Renaissance period. Rings that are worn on several fingers are stone. Jewel buttons and corsage ornaments sewn on clothes have an important place among Renaissance jewelry. The style trend following the Renaissance era was determined in the 17th century along with the baroque style. Initially, Italy and then France came to the fore in this area. In this period, it is seen that Renaissance concepts were abandoned and replaced by flower motifs. In the 17th century, the number of diamonds increased in Europe. In the same period, cutting techniques in diamonds increased. Thus, more brilliance was achieved in diamonds compared to previous examples. To remove the yellow reflections created by the gold monitors in the clear clarity of the diamond, the stone slots were covered with silver foil, making the stones even brighter.

The middle of the 17th century was the time when monarchies grew stronger, and where lavish ceremonial outfits and a glamorous court life rose. On the women, a pearl band surrounded the bun, and jewel clips adorned both sides of the hair. Creative and humorous models, hairpins have a wide repertoire including insects such as snails dragonflies, butterflies, caterpillars, flowers adorned with diamonds and colorful stones, arrows, and bows. The men’s hats were surrounded by bands, pearl rows, or gold chains with gemstones.

Jewelry After the Discovery of America


After the discovery of America, in the 16th and 17th centuries, a lot of gold was brought to Europe from mines especially in Mexico and Colombia. Later, in 1847, the gold found in rivers accidentally in the eastern United States caused people to flock to California. This was followed by the discovery of mines in Australia in 1851. In 1884, the famous Transvaal gold mines in South Africa started to be operated. With the discovery of new diamond mines in Brazil in the 16th century, the increase in the number of diamonds coming to Europe enabled the production of heavy diamond jewelry. In the 18th century, upper-class men were fond of jewelry just like their wives. Men’s jewelry and accessories such as hat ornaments, watch chains, diamond buttons, shoe buckles, swords with jeweled handles, snuff boxes were also used.



In 1795, five consuls administrations allowed the jewelry workshops to be reopened. However, the baroque style, reminiscent of the old royal period, was abandoned, and the Neo-Classical style became the expression of the spirit of revolution. Gold chains and long drop earrings in the classical Greek style became fashionable at that time. Golden diadems decorated with diamonds and colored stones were the most important head jewelry. Romanticism, the first art movement of the 19th century, developed as a reaction movement, during the first time in history when the man broke off from nature and began to literally pollute nature. With the industrial revolution, new technological tools started to be used in jewelry workshops.

Romantic jewels, depicting death or life themes with symbols of love, were used by both women and men in the 1800s. At the beginning of the 19th century, jewelry, in which many stones such as topaz, chrysoprase, amethyst, garnet, and turquoise were placed together, developed a symbolic style called “language of stones”. In the 19th century, the acceptance of archeology as a discipline, the beginning of the analysis of its old writings, the published excavation reports, and find catalogs created an intellectual interest in the Art of the Ancient Age, and therefore on the First Age jewelry. Unlike the Neo-classical style, the archaeological style did not produce antique jewelry models according to today’s manufacturing techniques and fashion lines but aimed to make successful copies by directly using old techniques.



In the 19th century, a new trend, Art Nouveau, emerged in Europe as a result of influences such as migration, urbanization, and industry. The most recognizable figure in the jewelry that emerged with this trend is naked or semi-nude female figures symbolizing freedom. In addition, various insects and snakes, exotic plants have been the subject of jewelry. The characteristic feature of Art Nouveau jewelry is that design is at the forefront. In order to achieve the desired effect, inexpensive materials have been used with precious metals and precious stones without hesitation.

Jewelry in the 20th Century


In the 20th century, with the effect of the 1st World War, the Art Nouveau art movement was replaced by the Art Deco movement. Jewelry followed the clothing fashion that directed it. Popular low-waist clothes were complemented by long necklaces and pendants adorning the back. Wearing sleeveless dresses with long gloves brought up wide bracelet designs. Sashes, hats, and shoes attached to the waist were decorated with decorative clips. Earrings with long pendulums and ornamental combs along with short cut hair are in fashion. The jewels of Art Deco, which was born as a reaction to the unresolved period following World War I and which was the dominant style between 1920 and 1930, are characteristic of their exotic geometric and heavy structures, vivid and contrasting colors.

Overlapping circles, rectangles, and triangles began to appear in jewelry designs, which were influenced by the Cubist and Constructivist movements as well as the Fovizim. The ruins of Egypt, Babylon, Maya, and Aztec unearthed during archaeological excavations at the beginning of the century also added the motifs of these civilizations to the jewelry design. In the late 1930s, the Retro (flashback) style rose, with its softer lines and richer expression. Although Deco jewelry was generally flat and two-dimensional pieces, early retro jewels were sculptured two-dimensional pieces. The combination of diamond with precious colors was at the forefront in the use of ornamental stones. Sophisticated effects were created by using warm and soft-looking pink, yellow, and white gold alloys together in many pieces.



The jewelry group that was at its peak in the early 1940s is cocktail jewelry. An extension of the Art Deco style, but reflecting retro features with its three-dimensional figurative effects, the most striking feature of the cocktail jewelry made of red or yellow gold is the combination of citrines, aquamarine, amethyst, and moonstones as well as precious stones such as ruby ​​and sapphire in successful combinations. The 1950s and the early 1960s, when there was a great dynamism in terms of jewelry design, was a Neo-Renaissance period in which new philosophy and art movements rose and multifaceted international artists were raised. The 1960s are the period when important steps were taken in the fashion and textile world. There has been a parallel development and difference in jewelry design and production. The combination of the image of the woman, which was very different in terms of thought and clothing compared to the previous periods, and the effects of the media that brought this image to the fore, increased the use of jewelry and thus the production on a large scale. The transformation of jewelry production into an important sector has led to the increase of organizations providing education in jewelry design and the encouragement of new lines.

The fact that Dali and Baroque, the great artists of the Neo-Renaissance of the 1950s, bridged the gap between traditional art and the application of jewelry designs, affected the 1960s. The search for different shapes, different techniques, and different materials of the new generation, which embraces the values ​​and excellence of handicraft, once again questioned the concepts of precious, semi-valued, and worthless stones and metals in jewelry. New materials such as meteoroid, niobium, palladium, etc. were used to express the artist’s individual tastes by blending them with traditional materials such as gold, platinum, and diamond.



The relative stagnation in art movements since the 1970s has led the art of jewelry to return. More rounded and classical lines dominated the designs. However, many designers questioned the nature of jewelry and its role in socialization and continued to create original and individual designs. In the 1990s, the jewelry of designers such as Linda Mc Neil, Gail Clement, Patricia Dudgeon, and Eric Russel united in the use of plain geometric shapes and alternative materials, which were the most prominent feature of the trend. However, the general line that prevailed in this period was limited to the use of almost all historical sources and naturalist styles in terms of both the firm and the designer by modernizing them and adapting them to industrial production.

The Origination of Jewelers and Goldsmiths


Let’s take a pleasant journey in the history of jewels. The oldest known gem has been dated to 100,000 years ago. Remains of ocher were found on a jewel made of seashells strung on a rope. It is the ancestor of today’s jewelry as it is embroidered and used for personal decoration. Bones, teeth, oysters, eagle claws were used attached to a rope or a cauldron made of animal skin. Mammoth teeth and stones were also used. The presence of jewels dating to the Paleolithic age in Africa, Egypt, and Siberia shows the universal nature of jewelry use.



Although the birth of jewelry was the objects worn by the human being due to his efforts to protect himself from hidden powers, evil eyes, luck, talisman, and his belief in magic, mankind used jewelry as a sign of privilege and a sign of wealth over time, who discovered that jewelry made the body look more beautiful and impressive. When the Egyptian Pharaohs, who took this much further, died, it was seen that they were put in the grave together with the most valuable jewelry and jewelry.

This situation, which is common in other civilizations, is the 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 became symbols worn by the kings of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Etruscan, and Hellenes, and the dominant classes in order to show themselves. At the same time, jewelry is an indicator of religion and state power. The jewelry need of mankind throughout history has led to the emergence of the jewelry profession.



Jewelry is all the activities aimed at making a work of art by processing precious-worthless-non-metal raw materials. The history of jewelry dates back to 4000 BC. Examples such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and anklets documenting this have been found in Anatolia, Thrace, and Mesopotamia. Although metals such as gold and silver are the main materials used in jewelry, precious and semi-precious natural stones (Emerald, ruby, agate, quartz, amethyst, glass, and crystal beads) and organic stones (amber, pearls, coral, etc.) .) became the main materials of jewelry.

When the possibilities of the modern age allow the imitation of these natural materials, which are very rare in nature, this time, the jewelry of the human being has gained a new dimension with the production of imitation jewelry with artificial stones and metals and plastic beads. The birth of an endless jewelry design art called “Bijouterie” has actually been a reward given by technology to jewelry enthusiasts.

In today’s sense, the use of jewelry becomes widespread when people learn about mining and agriculture. The oldest known gold jewelry in Bulgaria belongs to the Varna culture that knows how to work gold. However, it is widely used in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The word jewel, whose Latin root is “Jocale”, means toy item in western languages. Mankind has used jewelry in many contexts. In functional terms; Watches used to determine the time or needles used to fasten hair and clothes are examples.



Status indicator jewels include a crown or wedding ring. These jewels are used to mark a religious, cultural, or ethnic affiliation. Ankh, Masonic jewelry, the cross, the star of David, and the amulets containing sacred writings, which are among the most rooted symbols, can be cited as examples. They make a personal sense. There are examples such as black rings worn for mourning, heart-shaped jewelry worn to show love, carrying rabbit feet for luck. The most common purpose is to provide an aesthetic appearance.

In history, not only women but also men have used jewelry. Historical practice determined by cultural factors has led men to tend towards functional jewelry in general. However, the situation in the past was very different. For example, in ancient Rome, only soldiers of a certain rank can wear rings, and it is common for men to wear earrings in Islamic culture. In African culture, men wear nose rings, and piercing is a symbol of male courage in some cultures. In the lands stretching from Egypt to Anatolia, gold was widely adopted, and green stones were very popular as a symbol of fertility in agriculture. Stainless and bacteria-repellent properties may be the reason why gold is popular in agricultural societies.



The necklaces, rings, and earrings used today are always present in history. But jewels are much more diverse in the past. Anklet reliefs dating to 7000 BC have been found in Iran. Late Hittite reliefs in Anatolia show that the use of armlets is common among men and women. Gods and men also wear armlets in Assyria and Rome. Earplugs have been used as jewelry in history. Bones, teeth, seashells are common in prehistoric times. Common motifs are crescent and star, bird, butterfly, bee, and flowers such as tulips and roses. İstefan, meaning wreath in Greek, Syriac filigree is a reflection of multiculturalism. Ornate ribbons, enamel, and Najaf buttons called shastras also replaced the needle.

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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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