Throughout its history, man has found a wide range of purpose for the use of jewelry.Â What started as a simple form of adornment to the body became symbols of wealth, power and authority.Â Not only that, in some cultures, jewelry was seen as a symbol of prowess in battle and also served as protection from evil.The earliest artifacts of jewelry were found in Cro-Magnon dwellings dating to around 40,000 years ago.Â These forms of jewelry were crudely made and were crafted from shells, bones, sinew, mammoth tusks and mother of pearl.
The art of making jewelry started gaining refinement by the heyday of the Mesopotamian kingdoms.Â Artifacts have proven that both men and women in Assyria wore jewelry extensively.Â The same goes for the Egyptians.Â In Egypt, however, jewelry became a symbol of power, worn only by the pharaohs, the nobility and the rich.
By the time of the Greeks, the use of jewelry became centered on women; men only wore signet rings and brooches to hold their clothes.Â Jewelry was seldom worn except on special occasions and on public appearances.Â Women wore jewelry as a display of their wealth and social status and as an enhancement to personal beauty.Â Jewelry was also used to protect its wearer from the so-called Evil Eye.Â The Grecian example was followed by the Romans.
During the Middle Ages, three peoples became renown for their style of jewelry making.Â The Celts were distinct for their use of continuous and stylized patterns, while the Merovingians excelled in crafted stylized animals.Â The jewelers of Byzantine, on the other hand, made frequent use of gold leaf to emphasize the setting of precious stones.
The Renaissance period and the Age of Exploration brought jewelry making to new horizons, with the importation of gold and a wide variety of precious gems as well as the exposure of jewelers to other cultures.Â Working on gemstones became the focus of jewelry-making.
In the 18th century, many trends were seen in the making and wearing of jewelry.Â Parures, or sets of matching pieces of jewels, became highly desired among wealthy and high-ranking ladies after their introduction during the Napoleonic era.Â Jet jewelry as mourning jewelry was also popularized by Queen Victoria; she wore such pieces when mourning for her consort, Prince Albert.Â It was also around this time that Charles Lewis Tiffany formed the now-famous Tiffany & Co., one of the worldâ€™s foremost authorities on diamond jewelry.
While wearing jewelry is still as much the domain of women now as it is then, wearing jewelry in men is becoming more and more popular nowadays.Â The designs, styles and ways of making jewelry are now more extensive and varied.Â But one thing remains unchanged throughout the years: wearing and owning jewelry is still a symbol of wealth and status.