Sunday, March 29, 2015

Symbolic Jewelry of Ancient Egypt

Jewelry of ancient Egypt, worn by not just women but men, holds great historical significance for us today. Pieces like bracelets, collar necklaces, anklets, earrings, and fillets were on display daily in ancient Egypt as part of their normal dressing style, and even the dead were buried in ornate jewelry under the assumption that they’ll find use for them in an afterlife. The Egyptians are believed to have started the mastery creating jewelry art pieces through the use of gemstones and metal.

Symbols Used in Ancient Egyptian jewelry

Jewelry worn during the ancient Egyptian era was decorated with symbols that had specific significance. One of the most important symbols was the dung beetle or the scarab and was believed to represent rebirth.

Other symbols were charm necklaces and amulets.  These were another popular jewelry that was worn in everyday Egyptian life. These pieces also adorned the deceased; it was believed that surrounding the body with amulets and gemstones would ensure more protection and safety in the afterlife.

Gemstones of Ancient Egypt

Gemstones used in ancient Egypt to craft jewelry include garnet, malachite, Hematite, serpentine, turquoise, peridot, Lapis lazuli, Fluorite, Amazonite, carnelian and all manner of quartz. Cutting tools and grinding stones were used to shape the gemstones, with skilled artisans being exclusively employed by members of the upper class to create designs that were unique to their family.

While Egyptian jewelry included brooches, bracelets, coronets, clasps, girdles and earrings, it did have some very unique pieces that are readily recognizable as specific to that era. For example, the pectoral is an enormous breast decoration which has been found on various Egyptian mummies, and a headdress that resembled an outer wig was also unique to the Egyptian dress. And not just the dress but even normal household items like plates, vases and furniture contained hammered gold and jewels as part of its decoration.

Color Representation in Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

The color of jewelry made in ancient Egypt was also highly symbolic. The color green was associated with fertility and good yield, while the deceased were believed to be dressed in red to satisfy the blood hunger of the goddess Isis.

Use of Precious metals in Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Initially copper was used to carve ancient Egyptian jewelry and was later, as forging technology was developed, replaced by tin and copper which used to make bronze.  From there, silver (or the white metal) and later, gold. A naturally occurring alloy made from gold, silver and traces of copper referred to as Electrum was also used in making jewelry in ancient Egypt.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!  The use of symbols held a very great importance in the jewelry making in Egypt, identified in the many excavations of tombs and the great pyramids, still hold true today. Gold and diamonds currently serve as our main materials, and hearts, infinity loops, and religious symbols as our symbols, with unique designs gaining popularity.

And lest we forget, your jewelry treasures need an equally safe and unique method of storage, from luxury jewelry boxes to standing jewelry armoires!

Happy April!

Noelle, Guest Blogger, Chasing Treasure

solid cherry jewelry chest
Solid Cherry Jewelry Chest for Your Unique Treasures

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