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Jewellery in Mesopotamia tended to be manufactured from thin metal leaf and was set with large numbers of brightly coloured stones chiefly agate, lapis, carnelian, and jasper.
Favoured shapes included leaves, spirals, cones, and bunches of grapes. Jewellers created works both for human use and for adorning statues and idols.
Extensive and meticulously maintained records pertaining to the trade and manufacture of jewellery have also been unearthed throughout Mesopotamian archaeological sites.
One record in the Mari royal archives, for example, gives the composition of various items of jewellery:. Necklace; — BC; gold and lapis lazuli ; length: Sumerian necklaces and headgear discovered in the royal and individual graves of the Royal Cemetery at Ur, showing the way they may have been worn, in British Museum London.
The Greeks started using gold and gems in jewellery in BC, although beads shaped as shells and animals were produced widely in earlier times.
Around BC, the main techniques of working gold in Greece included casting, twisting bars, and making wire.
The forms and shapes of jewellery in ancient Greece such as the armring 13th century BC , brooch 10th century BC and pins 7th century BC , have varied widely since the Bronze Age as well.
Other forms of jewellery include wreaths, earrings, necklace and bracelets. Jewellery dating from to BC is not well represented in the archaeological record, but after the Persian wars the quantity of jewellery again became more plentiful.
By BC, the Greeks had mastered making coloured jewellery and using amethysts , pearl , and emeralds. Also, the first signs of cameos appeared, with the Greeks creating them from Indian Sardonyx , a striped brown pink and cream agate stone.
Greek jewellery was often simpler than in other cultures, with simple designs and workmanship. However, as time progressed, the designs grew in complexity and different materials were soon used.
Jewellery in Greece was hardly worn and was mostly used for public appearances or on special occasions. It was frequently given as a gift and was predominantly worn by women to show their wealth, social status, and beauty.
The jewellery was often supposed to give the wearer protection from the " Evil Eye " or endowed the owner with supernatural powers , while others had a religious symbolism.
Older pieces of jewellery that have been found were dedicated to the Gods. They worked two styles of pieces: cast pieces and pieces hammered out of sheet metal.
Fewer pieces of cast jewellery have been recovered. It was made by casting the metal onto two stone or clay moulds.
The two halves were then joined together, and wax , followed by molten metal, was placed in the centre. This technique had been practised since the late Bronze Age.
The more common form of jewellery was the hammered sheet type. Sheets of metal would be hammered to thickness and then soldered together. The inside of the two sheets would be filled with wax or another liquid to preserve the metal work.
Different techniques, such as using a stamp or engraving, were then used to create motifs on the jewellery. Jewels may then be added to hollows or glass poured into special cavities on the surface.
The Greeks took much of their designs from outer origins, such as Asia, when Alexander the Great conquered part of it. In earlier designs, other European influences can also be detected.
When Roman rule came to Greece, no change in jewellery designs was detected. However, by 27 BC, Greek designs were heavily influenced by the Roman culture.
That is not to say that indigenous design did not thrive. Numerous polychrome butterfly pendants on silver foxtail chains, dating from the 1st century, have been found near Olbia , with only one example ever found anywhere else.
Mycenaean necklace; BC; gilded terracotta; diameter of the rosettes: 2. Necklace; circa BC; gold, moonstone , garnet , emerald , cornelian , baroque pearl and banded agate ; overall: Gorgons, pomegranates, acorns, lotus flowers and palms were a clear indicator of Greek influence in Etruscan jewelry.
The modelling of heads, which was a typical practice from the Greek severe period, was a technique that spread throughout the Etruscan territory.
An even clearer evidence of new influences is the shape introduced in the Orientalizing era: The Bullae.
A pear shaped vessel used to hold perfume. Much of the jewelry found was not worn by Etruscans, but were made to accompany them in the after world.
Most, if not all, techniques of Etruscan goldsmiths were not invented by them as they are dated to the third millennium BC. The Vulci set of jewelry ; early 5th century; gold, glass, rock crystal, agate and carnelian ; various dimensions; Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City.
Earring in the form of a dolphin; 5th century BC; gold; 2. Bulla with Daedalus and Icarus ; 5th century BC; gold; 1.
Although jewellery work was abundantly diverse in earlier times, especially among the barbarian tribes such as the Celts , when the Romans conquered most of Europe, jewellery was changed as smaller factions developed the Roman designs.
The most common artefact of early Rome was the brooch , which was used to secure clothing together. The Romans used a diverse range of materials for their jewellery from their extensive resources across the continent.
As early as 2, years ago, they imported Sri Lankan sapphires and Indian diamonds and used emeralds and amber in their jewellery.
In Roman-ruled England , fossilised wood called jet from Northern England was often carved into pieces of jewellery. The early Italians worked in crude gold and created clasps, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
They also produced larger pendants that could be filled with perfume. Like the Greeks, often the purpose of Roman jewellery was to ward off the "Evil Eye" given by other people.
Although women wore a vast array of jewellery, men often only wore a finger ring. Although they were expected to wear at least one ring, some Roman men wore a ring on every finger, while others wore none.
Roman men and women wore rings with an engraved gem on it that was used with wax to seal documents, a practice that continued into medieval times when kings and noblemen used the same method.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the jewellery designs were absorbed by neighbouring countries and tribes. Cameo portrait of the Emperor Augustus ; AD; sardonyx ; 3.
Bracelet; 1st-2nd century AD; gold-mounted crystal and sardonyx; length: Necklace with a medallion depicting a goddess; ; green glass the green beads and gold; length: Post-Roman Europe continued to develop jewellery making skills.
The Celts and Merovingians in particular are noted for their jewellery, which in terms of quality matched or exceeded that of the Byzantine Empire.
Clothing fasteners, amulets, and, to a lesser extent, signet rings , are the most common artefacts known to us.
A particularly striking Celtic example is the Tara Brooch. The Torc was common throughout Europe as a symbol of status and power.
By the 8th century, jewelled weaponry was common for men, while other jewellery with the exception of signet rings seemed to become the domain of women.
A young girl was buried with: 2 silver fibulae , a necklace with coins , bracelet, gold earrings, a pair of hair-pins, comb, and buckle.
Note the Visigoth work shown here, and the numerous decorative objects found at the Anglo-Saxon Ship burial at Sutton Hoo Suffolk , England are a particularly well-known example.
The Eastern successor of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire , continued many of the methods of the Romans, though religious themes came to predominate.
Unlike the Romans, the Franks, and the Celts, however, Byzantium used light-weight gold leaf rather than solid gold, and more emphasis was placed on stones and gems.
As in the West, Byzantine jewellery was worn by wealthier females, with male jewellery apparently restricted to signet rings. Woman's jewellery had some peculiarities like kolts that decorated headband.
Like other contemporary cultures, jewellery was commonly buried with its owner. The Eagle-shaped fibulae of Alovera ; 5th century; gold, bronze and glass imitation of garnet ; height: Pair of Byzantine earrings; 7th century; gold, pearls, glass and emeralds ; The Renaissance and exploration both had significant impacts on the development of jewellery in Europe.
By the 17th century, increasing exploration and trade led to increased availability of a wide variety of gemstones as well as exposure to the art of other cultures.
Whereas prior to this the working of gold and precious metal had been at the forefront of jewellery, this period saw increasing dominance of gemstones and their settings.
An example of this is the Cheapside Hoard , the stock of a jeweller hidden in London during the Commonwealth period and not found again until It contained Colombian emerald , topaz , amazonite from Brazil, spinel , iolite , and chrysoberyl from Sri Lanka, ruby from India, Afghan lapis lazuli , Persian turquoise , Red Sea peridot , as well as Bohemian and Hungarian opal , garnet , and amethyst.
Large stones were frequently set in box-bezels on enamelled rings. When Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned as Emperor of the French in , he revived the style and grandeur of jewellery and fashion in France.
Under Napoleon's rule, jewellers introduced parures , suites of matching jewellery, such as a diamond tiara , diamond earrings , diamond rings, a diamond brooch, and a diamond necklace.
Both of Napoleon's wives had beautiful sets such as these and wore them regularly. Another fashion trend resurrected by Napoleon was the cameo.
Soon after his cameo decorated crown was seen, cameos were highly sought. The period also saw the early stages of costume jewellery , with fish scale covered glass beads in place of pearls or conch shell cameos instead of stone cameos.
New terms were coined to differentiate the arts: jewellers who worked in cheaper materials were called bijoutiers , while jewellers who worked with expensive materials were called joailliers , a practice which continues to this day.
Starting in the late 18th century, Romanticism had a profound impact on the development of western jewellery. Perhaps the most significant influences were the public's fascination with the treasures being discovered through the birth of modern archaeology and a fascination with Medieval and Renaissance art.
Changing social conditions and the onset of the Industrial Revolution also led to growth of a middle class that wanted and could afford jewellery.
As a result, the use of industrial processes, cheaper alloys, and stone substitutes led to the development of paste or costume jewellery. Distinguished goldsmiths continued to flourish, however, as wealthier patrons sought to ensure that what they wore still stood apart from the jewellery of the masses, not only through use of precious metals and stones but also though superior artistic and technical work.
A category unique to this period and quite appropriate to the philosophy of romanticism was mourning jewellery. It originated in England, where Queen Victoria was often seen wearing jet jewellery after the death of Prince Albert , and it allowed the wearer to continue wearing jewellery while expressing a state of mourning at the death of a loved one.
Tiffany's put the United States on the world map in terms of jewellery and gained fame creating dazzling commissions for people such as the wife of Abraham Lincoln.
Later, it would gain popular notoriety as the setting of the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. The modern production studio had been born and was a step away from the former dominance of individual craftsmen and patronage.
This period also saw the first major collaboration between East and West. Many whimsical fashions were introduced in the extravagant eighteenth century.
Cameos that were used in connection with jewellery were the attractive trinkets along with many of the small objects such as brooches, ear-rings and scarf-pins.
Some of the necklets were made of several pieces joined with the gold chains were in and bracelets were also made sometimes to match the necklet and the brooch.
At the end of the Century the jewellery with cut steel intermixed with large crystals was introduced by an Englishman, Matthew Boulton of Birmingham.
Motifs included orchids, irises, pansies, vines, swans, peacocks, snakes, dragonflies, mythological creatures, and the female silhouette.
The Darmstadt Artists' Colony and Wiener Werkstätte provided perhaps the most significant input to the trend, while in Denmark Georg Jensen , though best known for his Silverware , also contributed significant pieces.
The new style moved the focus of the jeweller's art from the setting of stones to the artistic design of the piece itself.
Lalique's dragonfly design is one of the best examples of this. Enamels played a large role in technique, while sinuous organic lines are the most recognisable design feature.
The end of World War I once again changed public attitudes, and a more sober style developed. Growing political tensions, the after-effects of the war, and a reaction against the perceived decadence of the turn of the 20th century led to simpler forms, combined with more effective manufacturing for mass production of high-quality jewellery.
Covering the period of the s and s, the style has become popularly known as Art Deco. Walter Gropius and the German Bauhaus movement, with their philosophy of "no barriers between artists and craftsmen" led to some interesting and stylistically simplified forms.
Modern materials were also introduced: plastics and aluminium were first used in jewellery, and of note are the chromed pendants of Russian-born Bauhaus master Naum Slutzky.
Technical mastery became as valued as the material itself. In the West, this period saw the reinvention of granulation by the German Elizabeth Treskow , although development of the re-invention has continued into the s.
It is based on the basic shapes. In Asia, the Indian subcontinent has the longest continuous legacy of jewellery making anywhere, Asia was the first place where these jewellery were made in large numbers for the royals [ citation needed ] with a history of over 5, years.
Early jewellery making in China started around the same period, but it became widespread with the spread of Buddhism around 2, years ago.
The Chinese used silver in their jewellery more than gold. Blue kingfisher feathers were tied onto early Chinese jewellery and later, blue gems and glass were incorporated into designs.
However, jade was preferred over any other stone. The Chinese revered jade because of the human-like qualities they assigned to it, such as its hardness, durability, and beauty.
Jade rings from between the 4th and 7th centuries BC show evidence of having been worked with a compound milling machine , hundreds of years before the first mention of such equipment in the west.
In China, the most uncommon piece of jewellery is the earring, which was worn neither by men nor women. Dragons, Chinese symbols, and phoenixes were frequently depicted on jewellery designs.
The Chinese often placed their jewellery in their graves. Most Chinese graves found by archaeologists contain decorative jewellery.
Fluted ring with a dragon head huan ; circa BC; jade nephrite ; overall: 9. Ornament with flowers and grapes design; —; jade; Shanghai Museum China.
Hat ornament; 18th—19th century; gold, gilded metal, kingfisher feathers, glass and semiprecious stones; various dimensions; Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City.
The Indian subcontinent has a long jewellery history, which went through various changes through cultural influence and politics for more than 5,—8, years.
Because India had an abundant supply of precious metals and gems, it prospered financially through export and exchange with other countries.
While European traditions were heavily influenced by waxing and waning empires, India enjoyed a continuous development of art forms for some 5, years.
By BC, the peoples of the Indus Valley were creating gold earrings and necklaces, bead necklaces, and metallic bangles. Before BC, prior to the period when metals were widely used, the largest jewellery trade in the Indus Valley region was the bead trade.
Beads in the Indus Valley were made using simple techniques. First, a bead maker would need a rough stone, which would be bought from an eastern stone trader.
The stone would then be placed into a hot oven where it would be heated until it turned deep red, a colour highly prized by people of the Indus Valley.
The red stone would then be chipped to the right size and a hole bored through it with primitive drills. The beads were then polished.
Some beads were also painted with designs. This art form was often passed down through the family. Children of bead makers often learned how to work beads from a young age.
Persian style also played a big role in India's jewellery. Each stone had its own characteristics related to Hinduism.
Jewellery in the Indus Valley was worn predominantly by females, who wore numerous clay or shell bracelets on their wrists. They were often shaped like doughnuts and painted black.
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