The Far-Reaching History of Jewelry

History of Jewelry

The History of Jewelry

Jewelry is intertwined with history, culture, and civilization. It consists of decorative items that are worn more often for personal adornment. Sometimes jewelry takes on a sentimental nature because of what it is made of or who the giver is. Jewelry can provide talismanic protection as an amulet. Jewelry is sometimes worn as a mark of leadership, for religious reasons, or an oath of civic office. It can also be a sign of love; for example, a beautiful diamond wedding ring, such as those rings you would find at Diamonds Forever San Diego

The Word Jewelry


The word jewelry comes from the Latin word “jocale,” meaning plaything. And for many, these baubles that adorn them are playful and fun.

The Earliest Known Jewelry

One of the earliest types of jewelry is a set of 13 beads that are 80,000-years-old and are made from Nassarius shells. They were found in the Cave of Pigeons in Taforalt in north-east Morocco.

Throughout history until about the mid-twentieth century, jewelry went through a radical change. The type of jewelry that a person wore depended on what they were wearing and the fashions of the era. With different degrees of necklines, hemlines, the lengths of sleeves, and fabric, this would usually determine what kind of jewelry a person would wear. The creativity of those that make jewelry today is endless, along with the styles and types of the objects that we wear for the body.

Types of Jewelry

JewelryThere are many kinds of jewelry and ways people can adorn themselves. Some have gone out of fashion and some are no longer required for use.

For Hands and Arms

There are bracelets, armlets, and rings. Some wear many bracelets, or only one. Some wear bracelets on both wrists. The same with rings; sometimes people wear rings on many different fingers. You don’t see too many armlets, but in some cultures, armlets abound. For those that wear suits, there is the classic style of cufflinks. They are worn at the wrists of dress shirts and can be gold, silver, or other precious metals.

For the Head

There are tiaras, crowns, diadems, hairpins, hair combs, earrings, nose rings, and lip rings. Although many people wear crowns, tiaras, and diadems in today’s fashion, at one time they were only reserved for royalty and only worn under certain conditions.

For the Neck and Torso

JewelryThere are necklaces and brooches. Some of the more obscure are the ancient fibulae, which was a safety pin that held a toga and the pectorals which were Roman breastplates. Belts never seem to go out of fashion, but as the digital age strikes, there is no longer a need for a watch fob.

For the Thighs, Legs, and Feet

There are thigh bracelets, ankle bracelets, toe rings, and shoe buckles, though most of those are in scant use in the West.

Then there are the chains of offices. These are usually a heavy chain that is worn as an insignia of office. One of the oldest and best-known is the Collar of Esses. It has been passed down to who ever holds the office in England since the 14th century.

Jewelry sometimes is status. In ancient Rome, it was illegal for anyone but certain ranks to wear rings. Often these rings contained a gemstone that was carved into a seal. It could then be used to press warm wax to seal a document of importance.

The first known continuous jewelry making was in ancient Egypt, where they created intricate pieces that were made from gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and carnelian. These pieces are still marveled at and coveted today.

What is Jewelry Made Of?

History of JewelryThese can be made from a variety of different mediums. Often the higher end jewelry is made from precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum. A variety of gemstones are used, from precious to semi-precious. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, sapphires, and opals are the most common precious stones. Amethyst, aquamarine, moonstone, peridot, and turquoise are just some of the semi-precious stones.

Jewelry can also be made from glass, wood, shells, clay and polymer clay. Really, jewelry can be made from any material that you have around you. What a person uses to make a piece of jewelry can really set it off as an individual piece.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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