By Jenney Gemma
Jewellery is one of the oldest inventions human beings have created. Some people argue that it’s even older than the wheel. Archaeologists found evidence of jewellery dates back to over a hundred thousand years. It has played a number of different roles in society, not only as adornment. Jewellery has also been a method of storing wealth and it has also been used as a commodity and as a pin to connect items of clothing. Jewellery has been used in the transfer of goods and was used in cultures that used the barter system to trade.
Jewellery used to be an important aspect of showing wealth and status within a society. It has also been used as a method of artistic display and also found a use in some cultures and religions to ward away evil spirits. But despite the wide variety of different uses jewellery is most popularly used as a form of decoration of the body and has been used to adorn all parts of the body.
There is a great deal of information on jewellery that has been collated over many years. Numerous archaeologists have devoted chunks of their lives to researching jewellery and as a result there is a great amount of quality information about the roles that it has played in the world and the types of jewellery that have existed. The main reason for the interest in jewellery is that it often gives a very good insight into cultures and societies at different times throughout history. Jewellery also tends to be preserved very well and is therefore very rewarding for archaeologists and historians as they can often find complete examples of jewellery that was used in the past.
Jewellery has been found that is as old as dinosaur bones. They were found in Europe that were made out of the tusks of a woolly mammoth in 1970s. Necklaces have also been found that are made up of bone and teeth. Gold jewellery have also been dug up that date back seven thousand years. Jewellery from ancient Egyptian times is expected to date back around 5000 years and in this time gold was treasured as a rare commodity and was a signal of luxury. The reason gold became so popular is that it is relatively easy to work and as a result could be fashioned into desirable functions.
The word jewellery (or jewelry as spelt in some countries) is derived from the word jewel which was anglicised “jouel” which is an Old French word used around the 13th Century. It has also been traced back to a Latin word – “jocale” which means ‘plaything’.
Beads made from Nassarius shells have recently been found which are 100,000 years old and are believed to be the oldest jewellery. In early times jewellery was used not only to pin clothes together but to show your social status and was often made for those who were considered of high importance. Thankfully these days we decorate ourselves in gorgeous jewellery for many reasons but personally. I am passionate about the individuality it creates. As fashions change and people either comply or rebel to the “norm” a lot are reluctant to follow fashions (or on the flip side reluctant not to) but jewellery has remained a very personal choice. Although jewellery fashions change each year people feel comfortable wearing their sentimental pieces of jewellery with pride regardless of the seasons.
The first pieces of jewellery were made from natural materials, for instance, bone, animal teeth, shell, wood, and carved stone, today the list of materials is endless and artisians are creating the most amazing pieces of jewellery from such an array of materials that the art jewellery industry is increasing its exposure and popularity. When considering art jewellery design and creativity is prized above material value.
In addition, there is the less-costly costume jewellery, made from less-valuable materials and mass-produced. New variations include wire sculpture (wrap) jewellery, using anything from base metal wire with rock tumbled stone to precious metals and precious gemstones.
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