The Origins Of Jewelry


Jewelry has become a mainstay in most cultures and is no longer considered a luxury item to be within the reach of the wealthy only.


Jewelry for personal adornment has been discovered in numerous ancient archeological sites.

The oldest Jewelry Ancient Jewelry: The Origins Of Jewelry As We Know It

From Ancient Times To The 18th Century

According to history, the Ancient Jewelry Era spans from prehistoric times to the 18th century when industrialization began. Prior to industrialization, many cultures were known as jewelry creators. Styles used by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, American Indians, Chinese, Persians, Celtics, Vikings and Mayans have all influenced jewelry past and present.


The word “jewelry” derives from the Latin word “jocale” which means “plaything”. Ancient jewelry was in some instances an object to be toyed with in addition to an item used for personal adornment.   

Ancient Jewelry And Its Meaning

The early civilizations wore jewelry to symbolize wealth and power. In Roman civilization rings were only designed for people of a certain rank. The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom have a similar symbolism.  They are considered to denote the wealth of the royal family and have been worn for centuries during the coronations and other state functions.


Jewelry has also been worn for religious purposes as in the Scarab beetle worn by the Egyptians who considered it to be symbolic or rebirth. The Vikings from Norway, wore pieces with strong religious significance and in Africa, tribes wore ivory hair bracelets believing that elephants served as a link between heaven and earth.

Where Was The Oldest Piece Of Jewelry Discovered?

The oldest  piece of jewelry known was discovered in eastern Morocco. The piece is believed to be 82,000 years old and features small shells covered with red clay indicating that the pieces were meant for ornamentation. Other pieces were found in South Africa in the form of simple bead necklaces dating back to 75,000 years ago. Kenya is another place where beads made from ostrich egg shells were unearthed, dating back to 40,000 years ago.



Ancient Jewelry: The Origins Of Jewelry As We Know It. Fist Gold Jewelry

Denoting Human Connection And Commitment

The role of jewelry began to evolve to include human connection and commitment. Wedding rings became popular as a universal way to symbolize the commitment of a couple.


In Europe, the wealthy and high-ranking church officials started wearing gemstones indicative of wealth and power. Later, the evolution of jewelry became independent and only the wealthiest people could afford the highest quality diamonds and precious stones. 


The discovery of gold altered jewelry forever. The Egyptians brought it to life and began the entire culture of royalty and nobles. Since then the trajectory of jewelry has changed and has been influenced by every generation. What was once a major discovery is now regarded as commonplace. Moreover, jewelry is readily available in any shopping venue.