No matter how you wear your jewelry now, it has a long history. Necklaces, rings, bracelets, and even toe rings all have a history far-reaching beyond recent popularity. Most jewelry was initially to signify a particular thing.
Some metals signified victory in battle; others were to highlight wealth or virility. Now, most people wear jewelry of all types simple as an accessory rather than to denote their social standing.
It is recorded that the first finding of any jewelry was 25,000 years ago, and this was a plain necklace that was made of fish bones. It is undetermined what the necklace would have signified. In some cases, and still today, jewelry with crystals and gemstones is believed to have magic powers that can help people achieve clarity, calm, or prosperity.
Iran and the Mediterranean
Simple stone amulets and seals were found in the Mediterranean and Iran. These amulets and seals were decorated with floral designs, stars and had spiritual meanings. In ancient Sumner, mummies found in the Royal Tombs, dating back to 3000 BC, were dressed in earrings, rings, crowns, pins, headdresses, and more.
Some Egyptians of high standing were buried with jewelry, gold, talismans, and other riches. Egyptians used bold colors of stones, including amethysts, green feldspar, turquoise, carnelian, and lapis lazuli. They believed that the different colors represented their personalities, and this symbolism became vital during the time.
Upon death and burial, a green stone was placed in the pharaohs’ mouth to restore their speech when entering the other world. Gold provided health and protection, while a heart amulet would preserve their soul. Rings, in particular, have an exciting history.
How Were Early Rings Made?
Several techniques were used to create rings.
One involved carving the shape or the ring out of wax and pouring in clay. The clay would melt the wax form, and the clay form took its place. Liquid metal was then poured into the clay casing and left to set. This method is known as the lost-wax method. Another method was to carve the ring out of stone, bone, or other traditional jewelry materials.
Although we have access to several new material types, these older methods are used today, and as Anne Sportun Jewellery shows us, there is no end to what can now be achieved when it comes to design.
The First Diamond Ring
The Egyptians believed that the ring represented eternity because it has no beginning and no end. Over time Greeks adopted the giving of rings to their lovers as a symbol of their devotion. Adorned with the likeness or eros or cupid, the rings often had motifs to signify that the wearer had control of the household goods.The medieval period saw bolder rings with giant stones, and detailed settings become popular with the more wealthy population.
The oldest surviving diamond ring dates back to 100s CE; it was found in Rome. However, the first diamond wedding ring only dares back to the 1300s. “Two wills, two hearts, two passions are bonded in one marriage by a diamond.” This was the poem that accompanied the wedding of two Italian socialites in 1477. Fast forward many more years would see a rise in the popularity of diamond engagement rings due to the fondness Queen Victoria had for the clear stones.
Engagement and Wedding Rings
Rings weren’t always a sign of intent to marry or marriage itself. Yet, they are now synonymous with both. In Medieval England, getting married was a fast process. All that was required was the consent of both parties. As a symbol of that consent, a ‘wed’ would be gifted from one party to the other. The ‘wed’ was typically a ring. The ceremony where to gift was given was known as a ‘wedding,’ and this went on to be the standard.
During the 12th century, Christian churches declare that marriage should be a holy undertaking and rings would be the ‘seal’ of the commitment.
After this, a ruling that rings should only be given with an intent to marry came into play. Since rings did not signify marriage up until this point, it is thought that the engagement ring was the personal gifting that was followed by a wedding ring.
Diamond Are Forever
Diamonds weren’t always the gem of choice, and only due to a huge marketing campaign by De Beers did they become vogue. Loaning out stunning diamond rings and other jewelry to the most popular actresses of the time saw a considerable increase in diamond purchasing and wearing.
They became the calling card for the rich, famous, and the glam.
De Beers even splashed out on artwork by both Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. Showing that diamonds were for everyone – and forever. And everyone knows the slogan diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Current Trends in Rings
While rings are no longer just a symbol of marriage or intent to marry, they are an accessory that anyone can wear. While there are still some high-priced rings and dripping with diamonds, anyone can upgrade an outfit with something a little sparkly.