Jewels From Antiquity (8th Century BC-6th Century AD)

Jewelry traces its origins to Neanderthals living in prehistoric Europe who fashioned beads from seashells a stunning 115,000 years ago. Precious Metal Jewelry dates back at least 7,000 years, when the first signs of copper jewelry were found. Jewelry as a luxury accessory, as we all regard it today, emerged out of Ancient Egypt. 

Ancient Egyptian Pharoah - Assay Jewelers

Egypt favored gold to other metals for jewelry craftsmanship, as its beautiful color and lavish feel attracted the attention of Pharaohs and wealthy Egyptians. Luxury jewelry as a symbol of power, wealth or prestige was borne out of this rich passion for jewelry, so much so that Egyptians were famously buried or mummified in their gold jewelry and in a gold tomb. Cleopatra, the first female ruler of an empire, was also famous for her lavish jewelry with extravagant designs. She is also credited with bringing Emeralds into the public sphere for the first time. With their affinity for gold jewelry and their belief in its inherent value, it's no surprise that the engagement ring– a symbol of eternal, undying love– originated in Egypt!

Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra - screenshot

India and China also have a long-held jewelry culture dating back at least 5,000 years. Chinese culture has revered gold since chinese history has been documented, and Jade in particular is a shining emblem of chinese culture. The Chinese also buried their deceased in their jewelry, as it was seen as a link to their ancestral roots, and carried gemstones as talismans that would ward off evil spirits or bad energies. 

Ancient Chinese Figures (Illustrated) - Assay Jewelers

Indian Jewelry design has always been unique to India’s rich culture, with their complex and colorful bead jewelry being referenced as early as 4th-Century BC in Indian epic poems “Mahabharata” and “Ramayana”. Domingo Paes, a Portuguese explorer, writes of the Vijayanagar Empire he encountered in 1520 in the Indian subcontinent, describing visitors as dazzled by the jewelry of the nation.

Mughal Princess Jahanara Begum

Jewelry is as old as human history itself, and the traditions seen in ancient jewelry craftsmanship, design and usage set the foundation not only for modern jewelry culture, but for many of our cultures and traditions as human beings.