The history of jewelry is fascinating; the evolution over time has seen some amazing changes. Self-decoration with jewelry has been practiced since the beginning of the human race. Every culture and race had some form of jewelry. The very earliest jewelry was made from organic and inorganic materials such as hair, feathers, leather, bones, wood, shells, minerals, and later, precious metals and gemstones.
In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, improvements in jewelry making led to a pivotal change in how jewelry was produced and what materials could be used with the new methods. Forging of bronze and copper began roughly 7,000 years ago, and allowed very intricate details of animals and other creative designs to be created. And with the discovery of gold several thousand years later, these creations became even more varied and valuable jewelry pieces. The Egyptians were instrumental in using the softness of gold, and gold jewelry pieces were discovered in the tombs of Pharaohs.
These latest techniques spread across the Middle East and Asia, where India was renowned for its amazing designs made from precious metals and gems. Every culture had its own form of design and preference in terms of gems and metals. And trends continue to evolve to this day.
What hasn't changed is the interest in birthstones and the use of diamonds in ceremonies such as weddings, are traditions that have survived the test of time.
Assigning a birthstone for each month is believed to have originated in the days of Moses, specifically by his brother, Aaron, and his breastplate, which held four rows of three precious stones, symbolizing the 12 months of the year and the 12 signs of the zodiac.
Other origins of birthstones include Tibet and even Poland. However, the Modern Birthstone List was created by the American National Association of Jewelers, Jewelers of America and was officially adopted in 1912.
Diamonds, in addition to being the birthstone for the month of April, are probably the most enduring, valuable, and popular of all gemstones. They are billions of years old and are the hardest of all substances. They are considered to be very valuable by all cultures. Today, they are associated with weddings. A potential bride is usually given a diamond engagement ring, thus "sealing the deal." This practice is first believed to have taken place in 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring featuring an M spelled out in diamonds.
Costume jewelry has always existed, and is cheap but can still look good. It's designed and worn usually as an accessory to a specific item of clothing. Costume jewelry is extremely trendy so of course, it must be on the inexpensive side. During various eras, costume jewelry assumed various forms. For example, during the Art Deco movement, Coco Chanel introduced costume jewelry to complete a costume. In all cases throughout American jewelry history, costume jewelry was accessible to all women, as it was affordable and often pulled a wardrobe together, unlike expensive jewelry, which was only obtainable by those with sufficient funds.
Aside from being beautiful and valuable to the owner in terms of sentimental value, fine jewelry is also valuable in terms of money. A piece of jewelry, be it made of bones or fine gems, always has a story. And it will be interesting to see what will be the next trendy design will be and what story it will tell.