A Brief History of Bling: Part I
If you are anything like me, you LOVE jewelry. Like, really love jewelry. One of my earliest memories is being 5 years old, sitting in the hospital waiting for my baby sister to be born. What makes this memory standout though, is how I spent the 6 hours waiting: staring into the photo of a large, emerald cut diamond from the holiday edition of a Tiffany’s catalog. To say I was obsessed with this catalog would be an understatement. This lifelong love for jewelry always has me craving to learn more, so I thought it would be interesting to explore a brief history of the bling we all love.
Jewelry has been adorned by humans for over 100,000 years now. In pre-historic times, people wore necklaces and bracelets made of readily available materials such as teeth, animal bones, and stone and sewed them to animal tissue. Oftentimes, people would make adornments out of the animals they killed for food. As nomadic life shifted to the birth of civilizations, there was more discovery around how to use metals and precious stones to make lavish pieces to be worn.
Egypt was one of the first ancient civilizations to discover gold, and that discovery allowed them to adorn themselves in opulent, decorative pieces which signified power and affluence. Egyptian gold was often mixed with other alloys, such as copper, to change its hue. It’s hard to picture pharaohs and queens of Egypt without imagining them wearing heavy gold necklaces, bracelets, earrings and head pieces. Silver wasn’t available in Egypt, so it is rarely discovered in excavations. Egyptian jewelry was preferred by nobility to be made of gold with the inlay of precious and semi-precious stones. Pearls, emeralds, and lapis, a stunning blue semi-precious stone, were first discovered in Egypt. Ancient Egyptian jewelry often had spiritual significance as they were known to incorporate talismans into their jewelry pieces as a form of protection or good luck.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages, medieval jewelry represented hierarchy and class within society. Nobility wore gold, silver, and precious gems and particularly loved lustrous stones. Similar to Egyptian jewelry, medieval jewelry also was believed to have special spiritual powers to provide protection to its wearer. Since this was before the innovative process of cutting stones for brilliance, stones were mostly just polished. The size and color of a gem was indicative of its value.
Renaissance jewelry mimicked the luxury and grandeur of the Renaissance period. With religion being the main focus of everyday life, religious motifs were incorporated in the jewelry designs of this period. People wore jewelry to show political power. Advances in stone cutting created brilliant stones that shined like never before and a new-found interest in classical mythical figures also made its way into the designs of this period.
This brief insight into the jewelry of ancient times makes one thing obvious: jewelry has and will always represent power, wealth, and prestige. Whether its wearer believes it has magical protective abilities or feels empowered by wearing it, jewelry will always be adorned and loved by all. One of the reasons we created Myra Ave is for that exact reason—to make our customers feel confident, bold, and empowered in their everyday life. Check out our recently launched collection of hypoallergenic earrings that we made just for you.
Stay tuned for the next post where we will have part II of the brief history of bling.
Co-founder of Myra Ave