Jewelry is considered to be the oldest type of archaeological artifact. It is made from a wide range of materials such as coral, shells, beads, precious metals, amber, etc. For most cultures, jewelry is considered to be the status symbol and had been made to adorn almost every body part.
The history of jewelry is as long as the human existence with different cultures. Even the earliest known jewelry was created by homo sapiens and not by humans. There is a brief history of jewelry given that may help you to know about the evolution of jewelry.
Medieval jewelry 1100-1400
In medieval Europe, the jewelry worn reflects the status-conscious society. Gold, silver, and precious gems were worn by the royalty and nobility, whereas, base metals such as copper were worn by lower ranks. Men used to wear jewelry to symbolize wealth and power. Rings and brooches were the most wearable accessories by men to signify their status.
This era had an inability for cutting jewelry, so they mainly used to polish jewelry due to which the jewels often appeared dull and lacked color. Their value was determined by the size and lustrous color. The dull appearance of jewels encouraged the use of jewelry enameling to add color to their designs. A range of techniques were used to create effects that are still broadly used today.
Renaissance Jewelry (1400-1700)
It was the period that led to the expansion of technology, knowledge, and exploration and hence improved the ability to cut jewelry. Many designs were created in the history of jewelry with the use of cutting and enamels. During this period, the belief in spirituality increased. The people started to believe that some gems contain powers that keep away the evil powers. So the use of jewelry had taken a new turn and people started to wear particular jewelry pieces depending on their Zodiac symbol.
Changes in fashion had been introduced by the mid of 17th century that led to a new direction in the styling of jewelry. Advanced cutting techniques were also introduced that made the gems more shiny and attractive. Gold jewelry was associated with dark fabrics while white and softer pastels were combined with silver, gemstones, and pearls.
This period expanded the use of diamonds and other gemstones as they started to brighten more due to advancements in cutting techniques. The 17th century was full of heavy jewelry pieces while 18th-century introduced the trend of lighter jewelry. People started to like organic, asymmetrical, and hand-made metallic jewelry sets. Especially silver gets popularity due to its lightness and brightness that well matches with the diamonds and other gemstones.
There wasn’t much change in the jewelry designing and the goldsmiths tried to bring ancient techniques. The influences of the Medieval and Renaissance periods were also seen as the people were more interested in colored jewels to showcase their status.
Also, the jewelry made from flowers get popular during this period and people used to match the colors of flowers to the colors of their gemstones. It gave them sparkling naturalistic jewelry. Other commonly used jewelry pieces at that time were earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and tiaras.
20th Century Jewelry
The Industrial Revolution took place and brought changes in many areas including jewelry. The jewelry designs turned to simplicity and modernism. Art Nouveau jewelry and the Garland style had been in trend at the beginning of the 20th century. Art Deco jewelry had been designed between the 1920s and 1950s, at this stage, the machine was started to use for jewelry designing that gave sharp patterns. Instead of diamonds birthstones became popular during this period. Jewelry was still considered to be the status symbol but it started to available at more affordable prices for the middle-class market. Metal alloy had been started to be used in making jewelry that reduce the cost of expensive jewelry.
Contemporary Jewelry (1960-Present)
New technologies, non-precious materials, and organic materials had struck the boundaries of jewelry designing. The view of jewelry as a status symbol has changed. People started to educate at art college and expanded their ideas for designing jewelry.
Men’s jewelry has also taken a turn into modernism, rings and chains had been introduced and brooches for men have been lost in the past. People wanted jewelry pieces at affordable costs that they can wear daily to mix and match with their clothing.
There were many changes in the design and styling of jewelry. The things became a tradition for people, and they never allow anyone to break them. Jewelry played an important role in history- it leads people towards success, boldness, and modernism, and to make changes in the traditions.