Very, very old in fact. Jewelry is one of the oldest artifacts of modern humans, and why not? It’s versatility makes its possibilities endless it seems. Also, who doesn’t like something a little shiny?
Maybe you don’t like rings, but you love earrings. Or necklaces, or bracelets, brooches, hair pieces, pins, or one of the plethora of options jewelry provides.
But where did the practice of putting shinny things on our person first start?
Jewelry is one of the oldest forms of archeological artifacts found, going as far back as 100,000 years. Some of the oldest known jewelry was actually created by Neanderthals (homo sapians close cousin). Small shells have been found with perforated markings on them, dating back 115,000 years ago. Later on, humans (homo sapiens) began using stones, bones and teeth to create jewelry. Around 7000 years ago copper was first introduced as a material for jewelry making. The practice itself it almost appears to be as old, if not older, than us.
What society considers jewelry can differ from place to place (necklaces and brooches versus anklets and nose rings). However, the use of adorning ourselves with these pieces for physical enhancement is universal. The purpose for jewelry carried from culture to culture and person to person. Whether for artistic, status symbol, function (like holding clothing together or hair up), religious or protection (such as amulets in some cultures).
One example for these different uses is how Roman elite would wear rings to show there statues (as it was a law at one point that only Roman elite could wear rings). Or the ancient Greeks whom rarely wore jewelry except to ward off “the Evi Eye” (the idea that someone was giving negative energy or thought towards you and certain amulets could help prevent these thoughts from influencing you). As time went on, jewelry making skills began to advance well into the Middle Ages and exploration spread techniques as well as materials.
Jewelry materials! The list of materials is endless and differs from place to place, culture to culture. A whole blog post would need to be dedicated to each material (keep an eye out for those in the future) because as exploration, trade and technological expanded, so did the options for materials for jewelry. No longer were people confined to their local options. And as mass production began to develope, that further changed the game.
I could spend hours detailing the finer bits of historical jewelry, from when gold first started to make an appearance, the concept of the diamond engagement ring and so on. I will save all those for future blog posts and introduce first how old the concept of jewelry itself is. So how old is jewelry exactly? It’s hard to get an exact date on it, but we do know, that it’s very old, older than us (as modern homo sapians) and that’s exciting. Every time you reach for your ring, for those earrings or necklace, r even pit a pin on a coat your participating on a tradition 100,000 years in the making.