The first signs of jewelry came for the people in Africa. Perforated beads of shell jewelry have been found dating to 75,000 years ago at Blombos Cave. In Kenya, at Enkapune Ya Muto, beads made from perforated ostrich shells have been dated back 40,000 years ago. The European early modern humans had necklaces and bracelets made of bone and teeth. In southern Russia. Carved bracelets made of mammoth tusks have also been found. In its earliest forms jewelry wasn’t made for decoration at all , instead it was used for practical uses like pinning clothes together. Ancient Egypt is the most significant culture in terms of revolutionizing jewelry, but other cultures contributed as well. Known as the eastern successor of the Romans, the Byzantine Empire continued the tradition of religious symbols in jewelry. Early Greek jewelry tended to follow more Asian designs following Alexander’s conquests. Today as well as in early times is the preferred metal for jewelry but affordable metals like copper are more commonly being used.
The ancient Egyptians placed high value on their jewelry. Not only was it worn to be visually appealing each piece had meaning. The jewelry was worn by both men and women of all social classes. Not only was jewelry used by the people, but statues of kings and gods were dressed in jewelry. Even in death the jewelry was worn as it was believed to send one into the afterlife. Copper and gold were the main materials used to craft Egyptian jewelry. Copper was mainly affordable to the lower social classes in Egypt, but gold was usually the preferred choice for the affluent Egyptians. As far as the gemstones that were used some of the more popular stones used were: lapis lazuli, turquoise, garnet, and pearls. The most common piece of jewelry in ancient Egypt was the wide collared necklace. Both men and women wore ear rings as well as finger rings. The use of gold in Ancient Egyptian jewelry simply represented the flesh of the gods or the fire and shine of the sun. Some of the most well known symbols of Egyptian jewelry are:
The ibis bird is a sacred bird associated with the god Toth. Toth was the god of wisdom and learning and is often depicted with the body of a man and the head of an ibis.
Eye of Hours
The Eye of Hours signifies royal power, protection, and good health. In Egyptian mythology it is said that after the god Osiris was killed by his own brother Set, god of the desert, Horus fought with Set to avenge his father’s death. Horus lost his left eye in the fight. The eye was found and restored and Horus offered the eye to his father as a sacrifice hoping to restore his life.
The scarab beetle symbolizes protection and resurrection. Death was a welcome transition for ancient Egyptians, from the physical into another realm of existence. The scarab symbol was often placed in the ton of the departed.
Egyptian styles are still seen in the modern jewelry world today. The Egyptian style and technique revolutionized jewelry as we see it today.
The Mayans were a civilization that lived in areas of what is today known as Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. They were on of the most advanced civilizations of their time and evidence of their civilization dates back well before the birth of Christ. Jewelry from the Maya civilization can be traced back 5,000 years. Early on in the civilization metal was hard to find so the Mayans made jewelry form bone, jaguar teeth, claws, stone, and feathers. With the discovery of more metals they would eventually incorporate bronze, gold and silver. The precious stone jade was also used in jewelry. Jade was also used as an offering to the gods, as trading currency, and sometimes as a treatment for kidney disease. Jade was held in higher regard than even gold and silver as the Mayans considered it to ne sacred and holy and the ultimate symbol for everything good including eternal love. Religion was extremely important to the Mayans and it is reflected in their jewelry. Men and women pretty much wore the same jewelry with the exception of lip and nose plugs and men with high social status wore nose plugs. The ear plugs worn were so heavy that often they would permanently disfigure the ear lobe. Thanks to archaeological finds in ancient ruins much has been found. Mayans believed strongly in the afterlife and archaeologists have found masks with jade, mother-of-pearl, and various ceramics in the tombs of kings. It was also common for a single jade bead to be buried with the deceased. They left these offerings and gifts to the gods after their deaths. Maya jewelry is truly a beautiful sight to behold.
The Incas lived in South America about 5,000 yeasts ago and their empire developed quickly. Even though it developed quickly it only lasted 100 years between AD 1438 and 1533. Ancient Incas were located in what is the present-day country of Peru. As far as jewelry Incas took gold work to the next level as they designed flame figures and masks for mummies. They also used copper,silver,and platinum. They were advanced enough to know that mixing copper and tin created bronze and also worked with inlays of mother of pearl, shell and amethyst. The main reason why the Incas used gold so often in their jewelry is because it was so abundant. They believed that gold shone like the sun and so to honor their main god the Inti Incas decorated their tramples with it. In the Sapa group of Incas members of the royal family, priests, and government authorities wore jewelry daily. Commoners only worker jewelry on special occasions such as religious ceremonies and special celebrations. The Sapa Incas decorated dresses and sandals with gemstones and gold and necklaces were popular amongst men and women. Besides extravagant materials the Incas also used seashells, wood, feathers, and seeds some of which were used on bangles and bracelets popular among women. The nose ring was an important piece of jewelry that was applied to the nose by pressure instead of piercing. The Incas ingenuity and elegance is appreciated to this day.
Aztec jewelry has fascinated everyone for centuries. It has an extremely rich history that is not known to all. In the ancient Aztec culture art was generally owned by the upper classes including jewelry. The jewelry was made from a variety of materials and often more than one type of material went into one piece. The materials were copper,gold,silver,clay,wood,shells,obsisian rock, and feathers. These materials were commonly used, but sometimes the designers would use precious stones were used to step up certain designs. Jade, opal, moonstone, and turquoise were used to name a few. Very ornate Aztec jewelry would have natural shapes though sometimes pieces would be crafted into the shape of birds and reptiles often with a religious significance. Men would often wear ornaments through their noses and also from a slit in their lower lip. One common form of Aztec jewelry was the ear plug and an example of these can be seen in the Aztec masks that both men and women wore. Only a small amount of the gold work from this era is left due to it being melted down during the tie e of the Spanish conquest. If you ever get the privilege of seeing ancient Aztec jewelry it is truly a treat.
The jewelry of the 18th and 19th century are valued more for their beauty and historical associations than their monetary value. They consisted of precious and semiprecious stones such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz, and garnets. The two most consistent metals they used were gold and silver. Some of the most beautiful items of this period are what we would call today costume jewelry. More than half of the remaining collection are rings and during this time there was a popular type of jewelry called mourning jewelry. This type of jewelry featured brooches and lockets containing a small amount of the hair of the deceased. This era is sometimes known as The Victorian Era named after Queen Victoria who reign ushered in a lot of modern style and technology. The queen’s jewelry and fashion influenced the world , as jewelry was extremely important to her. Her bridal jewelry consisted of an elaborate “Turkish “ diamond necklace with matching earrings. This era came to an end with her death on January 22, 1901 but the style of this period is still extremely popular and she is still one of the most admired and respected queens in history.
The Celtic culture reached Ireland at around 500 BC and the culture and the style of artwork that followed is called La Tene' after an area of Switzerland where artifacts reflecting the La Tene' style were first found. The style is defined by curves and spirals and human figures are rarely seen. The Celtic pieces of jewelry that are foundation of this style are:
Claddaghs are expression s of love and friendship. The origin is almost certainly from the Irish fishing village of Claddagh near Galway. Legend says that in the 16th century a love torn jeweler named Richard Joyce, from Galway was kidnapped by pirates. Thinking of the woman he was in love with, he designed a ring to express how he felt. It consisted of a heart to express his love, a crown for his loyalty, and hands for their friendship. He returned to her after 5 years and learned that she was not married, so he presented the ring to her and the Claddagh has been presented as a wedding ring ever since. Claddaghs are worn on the left hand facing inward if your heart is spoken for. If you are not in a relationship you wear the ring on the right hand facing outward.
Celtic crosses are generally thought of in religious terms, but the Celtic cross is actually much older than Christianity. They are equal-armed crosses enclosed by a circle. The cross can symbolize the four corners of the earth or the four elements. The circle is a symbol of eternity and the path of the sun in the sky. When Christianity was introduced, it became common to see the cross atop a matching pedestal.
Pentacles consist of a five-point star enclosed within a circle. Pentacles can be interpreted as representing the five stages of life: birth, youth, adulthood, old age, and death.
Celtic jewelry is still popular not only in Ireland today, but all over the world. It is one of the most requested styles currently.
Copper is one of the most useful metals and its usage in jewelry go as far back as recorded history. Copper was associated with gods and goddesses and it became so valuable it was used for money. Copper jewelry amulets were used during the reading of the Book of the Dead during Egyptian rituals after mummification had taken place. The earliest copper items in early America were beads and earrings. The Native Americans before Christopher Columbus arrived placed value and status on jewelry and traded copper bracelets with the Europeans. Since copper is very soft it makes it an ideal metal in making jewelry. Copper is also believed to protect against stress and to help with the flow of energy in the body. Feel free to check out our wide range of copper jewelry.
Sand casting is a metal casting process in which sand is used as the mold material. Over 70% of all metal castings are produced by sand casting. It is a process that uses a mold made from either metal, wood, or wax to create a negative impression in a special sand that will be the mold for the molten metal. Once the mold is filled it is then left to cool and solidify. Once cooled the mold can be hit with a hammer or pipe to crack the sand mold and expose the metal. The result can be a marvel look at and the history of this process has a rich history.
The history of sand casting
Sand casting technology dates back almost 5,000 years, and although it is unknown who made the first casting, most historians believe that ancient Mesopotamia made some of the first advancements. This is around 4000-3000 BC, and the oldest casting in existence is believed to be a copper frog around 3200 BC. From pure copper man moved on to bronze castings. It is believed that this was learned by accident that the addition of tin to molten copper could produce a more useful material. Further advancements would make sand casting a preferred method and was used not only to create small objects but industrial objects as well. In 1924, Ford set a record by producing 1 million cars, while in the process consuming 1/3 of the total casting production in the United States.
Sand casting jewelry in Native American culture
Sand casting as a jewelry-making technique used by the Pueblo people date back to the 17th century. These silversmithing techniques came to the new world by the Spanish and taught to the people of Mexico. By the 1850's Natives in the Four Corners area had acquired silverwork from Mexican craftsmen and began trading to acquire the skill.
Sandcasting is a labor of love that takes skill, but more importantly patience. No two sand casts are alike ensuring that each piece of jewelry produced through this process is uniquely your own.
Birthstones are enjoyed by jewelry lovers everywhere but what is not known to some is the history of birthstones and how they came about. To understand fully one has to go back the first century. The first century Jewish historian Josephus believed that there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate, the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. Interpretations of the passage in Exodus regarding the breastplate have varied widely, with Joseph’s himself giving two different lists for the twelve stones. In the eight and ninth century, religious treaties began associating a particular stone with an apostle were written because the book of Revelation stated “their name would be inscribed on the Foundation Stones, and his virtue”. It became standard to keep twelve stones and wear one a month. Modern lists of birthstones have little to do with the breastplate or Christianity. In 1912 the National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas and officially made a list of birthstones. The list has been revised two times , once in 1952 by with the adding of alexandrite to the month of June and citrine to November being two of the changes. The next revision would occur in 2002, with tanzanite being added to the month of December. Birthstones differ around the world depending on the country or culture, yet their popularity remains at an all time high.
Sterling silver and fine silver jewelry are often mistaken for each other, and many are confused as to what the titles mean. So what separates the two?
Gold filled jewelry is a very popular alternative to solid gold jewelry. Even with it’s popularity most people aren't 100% sure of it's properties, or of the actual process of it's creation.
Jewelry has a long and rich history in human culture. From the ancient civilizations to modern society we have always revered Jewelry as a thing of beauty and of class and culture. What makes Jewelry so unique from other arts and crafts is that literally anything can be made into a stunning piece of Jewelry, presuming you have the eye and hand for making it!
The name Ammonite comes from the Greek ram-horn God called Ammon.
Electroforming (my mad scientist technique), in the simplest terms, is the intricate process of controlling chemically a metal deposit (copper, silver, gold) onto a conductive surface whether it be an organic or inorganic material. This process is similar to plating...but is done over a much longer period of time - and can be anywhere from 1 - 18 hours. Basically a thick “skin” of metal is built up into a rigid surface. I used this technique to make bezels, rings, pendants, and to enhance or improve some of my forged or crocheted wire components.
Iolite is originated from the Greek word “ios,” or violet. Iolite at its best is a rich, violet-blue coloured stone.
Apatite is actually the mineral that makes up the teeth and bones of all vertebrate animals. The name comes from the Greek word apate, which means, "to deceive." Apatite was often confused, therefore "deceiving" many, with some of the more valuable gems such as tourmaline, olivine, peridot, topaz and beryl.
I use Renaissance Wax to preserve and protect metal and gems in my jewelry. It is an extraordinary product it can restore and protect a number of items including almost all jewelry. By applying several layers of this wax it will protect the jewelry from changing colors or coloring skin in the case of copper. Eventually it will wear off but a good car polish is almost as good if you use a very little bit.
Developed by the British Museum in the early 1950's for fine art conservation, Renaissance Wax Polish is a blend of highly refined micro-crystalline fossil-origin waxes. It can be used on virtually all solid surface materials - even paper. The #1 choice of museums, galleries and professionals worldwide.
Copper is one of favorite metals to use in the construction of jewelry. It is beautiful, affordable, and perhaps the most versatile metal to make jewelry with. I use copper wire to crochet gemstone ropes, to forge clasps, to knit chains, and for electroforming.