Tracing the origins of jewelry is an unenviable and ultimately impossible task. Ancient Egypt, India, and China are widely regarded as the first civilizations to begin developing jewelry as we know it today. Between the three civilizations, India is considered the leader of the pack with a connection to jewelry such that it became a part of their daily lives (Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, 1953, from GIPHY).
Fun fact: India was able to master the art of gold gathering and processing before anyone else.
Assuming we give India the edge in a clear-cut trifecta that each spanned thousands of years indulging in jewelry, a bigger issue arises: How do we define jewelry? Do rare seashells or beautiful peacock feathers fall under the broad umbrella of jewelry? Most importantly, why has jewelry, in all of its glorious forms, remained a fixture since the beginning of the human situation? (GIF Courtesy GIPHY).
The long reach of the Roman Empire continued the development and evolution of jewelry in large part to the influences of those civilizations they conquered. The fall of Rome would see Europe as the driving force in jewelry innovation—but only after a lengthy dark age until Crusaders returned with all sorts of new ideas that would ultimately manifest as the Renaissance (GIF Courtesy GIPHY, similar ring can be found here).
Jewelry saw a dramatic transformation in design and style that would mirror the rise of the middle class and the subsequent diminishment of royalty, noble lineage, and an all-powerful Church. Most similar to today’s style, necklaces, earrings, and intricately designed gemstones burst onto the scene and continued to evolve through the Victorian era, the Industrial Revolution, and the 1920’s fixation of Art Deco’s cubism, modernism, and geometrical shapes (Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961, from GIPHY).
Even today, jewelry designs are continuously evolving with trends that’ll stay and trends that’ll fade. But whether we’re talking about decorate sea shell beads some 70,000 years BC or ancient Rome’s seal rings and amulets or one of our very own moissanite pendants, jewelry serves as a non-verbal expression of who we are, or at least who we want others to think we are, and who they were (they, being all of history before us). Jewelry is synonymous with culture in that it reflects and memorializes people, time, and place.
Food for thought the next time you’re shopping for jewelry (our exclusive custom designed classic solitaire below)!