Jewelry Making: A brief history

Studying the history of jewelry can provide a
context for making it and can provide
inspiration for design: forms, and motifs,
composition and fabrication, as well as fixtures,
fittings, and findings.
Our earliest ancestors were wearing jewelry even
before they began to fashion clothes for
 Body Adornment: Every country on earth has found some way to adorn itself.
 Tattoos
 Decorative scarring
 Body piercing
 Makeup
This desire for adornment has influenced the
techniques for jewelry making and drives civilizations
and cultures to develop their own distinctive styles and
methods of making.
 Use of materials available:
 Shells
 Seeds
 Animal teeth
 Claws
 Stones
 Beads were made by exploiting a natural hole in the
object or piercing it at the thinnest point.
 Making of tools: Most of the ancient tools still survive
 Annealing: discovered the need in the earliest stages of
metalworking (ancient Egypt).
 Production of wire: large amounts of wire are found in
ancient jewelry.
 Beads
 Chains
 Surface decoration
 Early jewelry from this area:
 Brightly colored
 Raw materials
The demand for these might have been a factor in the
extensive trade networks.
 Earliest examples of gold discovered in royal tombs
 Sumerians skills as goldsmiths spread over Western
Asia, Turkey and Greece.
 By 1900 BCE, jewelry was playing an important
role in Egyptian culture. An incredible amount
was preserved, as jewelry was extremely
important in rituals surrounding death.
 Dynastic Egyptian jewelry:
 Colorful polychrome effect with symbolism.
 Broad collar (wesekh)
 Scarab beetle (pharaonic jewelry)
 Lotus flower
 Eye of Horus
 Minoans: mastered techniques
Filigree (twisted threads of metal)
Granulation (grinding of metal)
Repousse (shaped by hammering)
Gemstone engravers
 Mycenaean
Complex seals
Colorful inlay
Fine chain
 A serpent wrapped around an arm or finger was a popular
 Early Etruscan:
 Technical proficiency and variety
 Granulation
 Roman:
 Colored gemstones
 Simple, heavy settings
 Egyptian emeralds, garnets, sapphires from India
 Fine chiseled openwork
 Byzantine society was hierarchical and the wearing of
jewelry and the availability of certain types of ornament
was strictly regulated through laws.
 Adoption of Christianity led to new forms of jewelry
 Pendant crosses
 New iconography
 Figural representation
 Characteristics
Fine-chiseled openwork
Chasing and embossing
Colored stones that predominate over the gold work
Gold Cloisonne
 Ireland: rich in alluvial gold
 Large disks decorated with central crosses
 Crescent-shaped neck rings called lunulae
 Central Europe: use of wire formed into spirals. In
Ireland, Britain, and France cruciform strips of wire
were twisted into long three dimensional spirals that
were worn around neck or arm.
 The Celts dominated Europe during the Iron Age and
established a stylistic tradition that persisted in parts
of Europe throughout the Roman period and beyond.
 Celtic craftsman used enamels and inlay as early as 400
 The item most associated
with the Celts is the Torc; part
of the battle dress worn by both
men and woman.
 Functional jewelry
 Animal Motifs dominated Viking jewelry
 Repousse and filigree enhance basic cast shapes
 Chip-cutting: surface of the metal was worked with a
chisel to create facets that produced a glittering effect.
 Most Viking jewelry was made of silver, generally
woven and braided into torcs and bracelets.
 Medieval jewelry: Materials used were
valued for their intrinsic and medicinal
 Inscriptions were popular
 Devotional jewelry was prominent
Its up to you to change the
How much creativity, risk
taking, and thinking outside
the box will determine how you
effect history!!
 Influenced by culture and arts of ancient Greece and
Rome. Classical architecture, decorative motifs,
historical figures, mythological subjects, exotic
animals all were inspiration for jewelry design.
 Christian imagery remained current.
 Popular Tudor motifs were the monogram device and
the knot.
 Characterized by:
Vivid color
Enameled gold and precious stones
Cameos and intaglios
Gem engraving
 With the change of fashion in the 17th
century to flowing silk fabrics outmoded formal
ceremonial jewelry. A softer side emerged with pearls
becoming popular. Botany was a characteristic motif,
and the bow, while gold receded to provide merely a
framework or setting for stones.
 English jewelry in the mid 17th century was effected by
the Civil War and Puritanism. Much commemorative
jewelry was worn secretly after the execution of
Charles 1st in 1649. Wedding rings were scorned.
 Rise of the gemstone and distinction between daytime
and evening jewelry.
The Chatelaine: a decorative belt-hook or clasp worn at
the waist with a series of chains suspended and
mounted to hold household accessories such as
scissors, thimble, watch, keys.
Foiling of stones to enhance sparkle.
Naturalism; curving lines, leaves, and feathers.
Alternative materials: ceramic and glass.
Discovery of Diamonds in 1725
 More accessible due to machine made jewelry and
mass production. Designs were inspired by
archeological discoveries and nationalism.
 By the end of the century ideas of design reform had
led to the founding of two new movements in Britain
and Continental Europe: Arts and Crafts and Art
 With the introduction of mass production came large
quantities of cheap jewelry.
Costume jewelry
Gold was passed through rolling machines to produce large
sheets of uniform thickness, which could then be stamped
out into component parts for affordable jewelry.
Chain making was made by machines.
Novelties: the Victorian era spawned a fondness for
eccentric and humorous trinkets. Everyday objects were
incorporated into designs. Moving jewels powered by
 Characterized by: rise of the luxury jewelry houses and
the rise of the individual designer, jeweler-artist.
 Marked by the increase in the use of alternative
 Art Deco: borrowed from the modernist movements
such as Bauhaus, Cubism, Neoclassicism characterized
by linear forms and stylized abstracted geometric
forms. The machine age with angular and cylindrical
shapes to resemble inner workings of machines.
 The rise of individual artist art schools.
 Self expression
 New materials were embraced, expected forms and
functions were challenged, and the boundaries
between jewelry, sculpture, clothing and performance
art were explored.
 Paper jewelry