Jewelry and Style

A brief history of jewelry
Men and women have adorned themselves with jewelry since long before the age of reason!
Garlands of flowers, bracelets of woven grass, shells, and stone; such were the first decorations to beautify the human body.
We may have been wearing jewelry as far back as 75,000 years ago - 30,000 years earlier than previously believed - according to a recent report by National Geographic News.

Over the millennia, jewelry styles and materials have evolved in step with the advances of civilization. From the Stone Age to the Bronze Age, from the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (and seemingly back again!), jewelry styles have transformed, modernized, and then often returned to their most basic forms and essential elements.

So, too, has the significance of jewelry evolved through the ages. Fundamentally, jewelry has always remained an adornment, but an adornment that variously transformed into a symbol of love, religion, wealth, prestige, rank, class, and sometimes authority.

Historically, rings in particular have held significant import beyond mere physical enhancement. Clergy prized "heavenly" blue sapphire rings. Signet rings have served as official seals. Others have considered rings as icons of physical and spiritual protection, bearers of magic strengths and powers. Rings have served as modes of identification - religious, political, institutional, and educational, and they have even served as pass keys into secret societies.

In the 1st Century A.D., rings of thin iron were given to brides-to-be in Rome. It may not have been until 1475, in Italy, when Constanzo Sforza gave Camillia d'Aragona a diamond ring to signify their betrothal that the tradition of diamond engagement rings began.

In many cultures, at various times, jewelry and jewelry beads have been used as currency. Perhaps most memorably, in relatively recent history, in 1626, Native Americans accepted too few strings of European glass beads from a Dutch immigrant in trade for the island now known as Manhattan. Three centuries later, in 1916, the renowned jeweler Jacques Cartier traded just two pearl necklaces for a parcel of land in Manhattan - where he opened his first store.

Precious metals, stones, pearls, and beads have carried a host of meanings, intentions, and significance, depending on the era and the culture. Love tokens, lockets containing a portrait or snippet of hair, Victorian jet mourning jewelry, Burmese rubies inserted beneath the skin to protect warriors in battle. Jewelry has acquired, shed, and in many cases re-acquired a multitude of intriguing meanings.

In that same spirit of transformation, in different regions of the world, jewelry has attached itself to different parts of the body.

In India, jewelry has long reigned supreme and extravagant, ornamenting almost every aspect of a woman, from hair to nose to ankle to toe. Jewelry likewise found its way to the feet in 18th Century England, but there, it was attached to shoes instead of toes, transforming mundane moccasins into ornately buckled masterpieces.

The 21st Century has renewed the ancient rave and reverence for jewelry, and perhaps even taken it to new heights, again from hair to toe - and this time, absolutely everywhere imaginable in between!

In the 1st Century A.D., rings of thin iron were given to brides-to-be in Rome. It may not have been until 1475, in Italy, when Constanzo Sforza gave Camillia d'Aragona a diamond ring to signify their betrothal that the tradition of diamond engagement rings began.

 Precious metals, stones, pearls, and beads have carried a host of meanings, intentions, and significance, depending on the era and the culture. Love tokens, lockets containing a portrait or snippet of hair, Victorian jet mourning jewelry, Burmese rubies inserted beneath the skin to protect warriors in battle. Jewelry has acquired, shed, and in many cases re-acquired a multitude of intriguing meanings.

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Precious metals, stones, pearls, and beads have carried a host of meanings, intentions, and significance, depending on the era and the culture. Love tokens, lockets containing a portrait or snippet of hair, Victorian jet mourning jewelry, Burmese rubies inserted beneath the skin to protect warriors in battle. Jewelry has acquired, shed, and in many cases re-acquired a multitude of intriguing meanings.
Norrana

 

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