The Oldest Jewelry in the World and Their Connection To Contemporary Jewels
Jewelry, and everything that it is associated with, may be perceived by some as being somewhat superficial and secondary. Yet, the concept of jewelry actually began close to the beginning of the human race. Artifacts that were discovered in Croatia were confirmed as being ornaments used by Neanderthals over 135,000 years ago. More sophisticated “jewelry” that was discovered in Israel, Morocco, Kenya, and Siberia are said to be between 110,000 to 40,000 years old respectively. Though these jewelry pieces are a far cry from the jewels we know and love to day, we can see the patterns and styles that they have in common as well as the inspiration for the modern jewelry that they have evolved into.
The first known jewelry made by modern humans was found in the site of the Skhul cave in Israel. Beads made from a sea snail called Nassarius were discovered, similar to the beads uncovered in Africa dating back 80,000 years. Unusual beads constructed from an ostrich egg were found in Kenya, and at a time, were believed to be man’s oldest ornament. An intriguing stone bracelet originally believed to be 40,000 years old was found in Siberia, and was later understood to be much older than that making it an even more impressive find.
The Varna civilization was one of the first cultures to develop the goldsmith skill. Developed in Eastern Bulgaria near the Black Sea, which is rich in lakes allowing plenty of trade, the area was discovered with many human remains buried alongside a tremendous amount of precious jewelry. The amount of gold found was more than was present in the rest of the world at the time. This indicates how prominent jewelry was even back then.
Although the models have changed, the style of jewelry still remains quite similar
Egypt, the Cradle of Civilization, is another area rich with ancient jewelry. The material of choice there was silver, as it was quite abundant then, as well as colored glass. Pieces discovered from this period are believed to be around 5,000 years old.
Mesopotamian jewelry, dating back as early as 2900 BC, consisted of jewels crafted from thin sheets of metal. They were often set with colored gems. These are two trends that we still see today. The closer we get to modern times, the more the jewelry seems similar to what we are used to.
Looking back at these various ancient relics, we can clearly see the connection to today’s jewelry. Even during the times of the Neanderthals, materials were used to create beads, which were threaded upon some sort of string. We know this because small holes on either side of the artifact were found. The desire to adorn one’s self with beautiful objects is a concept that is so old it is quite shocking. This shows that the ability to be creative and expressive has existed for tens of thousands of years, indicating how very important this aspect of jewelry truly is.
So why break tradition that we have managed to honor for so long? Take a look at our collection and let us know which pieces you like best!