Jewelry has, in many shapes and forms, been around since the Stone Age. In the ancient cave paintings, items are clearly seen around necks and wrists. These will have been symbolic and not decorative, but they are there nonetheless.
The ancient Egyptians in 3000 BC first created Jewelry as we know it. When Howard Carter and his team first discovered Tutankhamen`s tomb in 1922, the array of gold jewelry that they found was priceless. Pendants, bracelets, rings, armlets, diadems, earrings, head ornaments and collars of pure gold where all found in the land of the Pharaohs.
By the time of the ancient Greeks in 1400 BC, the art of jewelry making had come on an awful long way. The heavy chunkiness that the Egyptians were so fond of had been replaced by very delicate earring and necklaces. Beads shaped into flowers, beetles and shells were manufactured on a large scale. The delicacy of the work is nothing less than miraculous considering the primitive tools they had at their disposal. By 300 BC the Greeks were making multi colored jewelry and using precious stones such as garnets, pearls, amethysts and emeralds.
Jewelry continued to evolve over the centuries and by the 17th Century fake pearls and paste earrings were making an appearance. A lady permanently wore earrings, so the fakes were worn through the day and the diamonds etc were brought in the evening, along with brooches which were worn down the from of the body in descending sizes.
In the earlier part of the 20th century designers such as Coco Chanel were influencing the quality glass jewelry being massed produced by Lalique. Costume jewelry was given the grand title of cocktail jewelry. They encouraged wearers to mix and match between their fakes and their genuine jewelry.
After a lull during World War II due to the rationing of the metal, jewelry production came back big style. The glamorous movie stars of the 40`s and 50`s dazzled everyone with their sparkling gems. The old newsreel films show them at premieres and parties dripping with gold and diamonds. The Oscars ceremony has always been the big event of the year, and the jewelry that the stars wear is as talked about as their hair and clothes.
The jewelry that we wear today has come a long way, but the basic elements are still there. The greatest leap has been in the jewelry specially designed for men. Gone are the days when the only jewelry a man would wear was his wedding or signet ring. They now go out adorned with necklaces, bracelets earrings and various other sparkling accessories.
Costume jewelry for men is heavily influenced by sport. Necklaces made of a leather string are popular with the surfing fraternity, and have found their way into popular culture. They will have something like an imitation sharks tooth attached as a pendant. Likewise, you see young men everywhere wearing leather bracelets.
Whether genuine or fake, jewelry is a big part of our lives. Whenever we get ready for a night out, we know that a necklace or earrings will be the finishing touch to our outfit.