Jewellery has been an indispensable part of the human culture. It has adorned the human race since time immemorial. For thousands and thousands of years, it was a form of expression, wealth and status. With the human evolution, the jewellery too went through evolution. Earlier flowers, shells, beads and bones were used to craft jewellery. As time moved, the metals were moulded and tamed with jewellery designs. Soon the technology evolved and more intricate designs gradually developed.
The evolution of jewellery can be broadly divided across three civilisations i.e. Egypt, India and China. The Egyptians laid a firm foundation for metallurgy, gem collecting, and glass manufacture. They were the trendsetters of unique fashion jewellery. On the other hand, Indians made jewellery an integral part of their daily life and religion. They were the first ones to devise and manage the art of gold. It is this unique skill set that became a driving force for the incredible expansion of European Civilisation during the Age of Discovery. China slowly focused on creating jewellery inspired by nature, animals and dragons, this gradually became popular across Asia making them pioneers of creativity.
The Timeline of Jewellery:
110.000 – 73.000 BC – Sea shells were used as Amulets. Traces of sea shell jewellery was found in Morocco, Israel, Algeria and South Africa.
38.000 BC – Beads crafted from animal remains was found in France.
28.000 BC – Fossilised shells and ivory beads discovered in the Czech Republic.
4400 BC – Thracian civilisation produced objects made from gold.
5000- 30 BC – This marked the era of copper jewellery. Glazed beads and critter jewellery became popular during this period. Gemstones like Amethyst, Turquoise, Carnelian, and Feldspar were used to craft the one-of-its-kind fashion jewellery.
2750 – 1200 BC – Ancient Mesopotamia produced jewellery inspired from grapes, cones and spirals. Gemstones like Agate, Jasper and Carnelian were used.
1400 – 30 BC – Greek jewellery was synonymous with fashion jewellery, as it was embedded with precious gems like the emeralds and was based on the animal and shell design.
500 BC – 400 AD – During this era the serpent jewellery came into existence. The Romans inherited seal rings, brooches, amulets and talismans that were etched with Sapphires, Emeralds, Garnets, and Diamonds.
400 – 1000 AD – In the European Dark Ages jewellery was inherited by the royals only.
1066 – 1485 AD – In the Medieval age jewellery again became popular because it was more of religion-centric. The most popular designs were hair and cloth jewellery that was worn during religious ceremonies. The jewellery during this age was embedded with both precious and semi-precious gemstones.
1500 -1830 – The arrival of Renaissance and Georgian period brought the rise of jewellery. Necklaces and Earrings of various designs were made. It is during this era that the diamond jewellery was the ultimate fashion jewellery and was being paired with the evening party ensembles.
1835 – 1900 – Fashion jewellery evolved in Europe during the reign of Queen Victoria.
The early 1900s – Art Nouveau and Edwardian styles were an evolution of this period.
1920 – 1935 – Twenties marked the advent of the Art Deco, which introduced vibrantly coloured jewellery filled with geometrical shapes, abstract designs, cubism, modernism and oriental art. Wristwatches were also worn during these years.
1939 – 1949 – This was the period of World War II. During this time, metal based jewellery designs etched with patriotic motifs and semi-precious and synthetic gemstones came into existence.
The 1950s – Post-war years brightly coloured jewellery returned. Rhinestones and big beads were used. Diamonds marked its spot as the most popular gemstone.
17th Century Onwards – Post 17th Century jewellery no longer remained a status symbol. The gold and silver jewellery was affordable by the lower classes too. Jewellery began to take floral designs and animals with unique coloured gemstones and metals. This trend continued until the early 20th Century and included intricate glass creations. The industrial revolution stimulated the jewellery fashion; and trends changed faster than ever. Jewellery crafted during the Art Nouveau, Edwardian, Art Deco and Retro periods, in particular, are popular even today.
Present day and beyond – Today jewellery stands as an artistic expression. The technology revolution has made the jewellery available and affordable. Synthetic gemstones have replaced the highly valuable and treasured gems. Design and creativity were now of pivotal importance. Jewellery stores exhibit each piece in a way that it casts its spell on the customer and lures him to buy it right away.