Jewellery is a universal form of adornment. Over the years jewellery has changed from shells to rocks to artificial metals. As it is said correctly, ‘every piece of jewellery has its own story to tell’. It has changed with time, with people and with facilities. From only being adorned by the people with class to being easily available to everyone, jewellery has come a long way.
Jewellery has survived thousands of years with each age giving its own design and definition to it. It was made from stone, bones and shells in the Pre-Historic times. Historians predict that earlier jewellery was worn as a protection from dangers to life or was worn as a mark of rank or status.
In the ancient age, people started working with metals. Over the period of time, metal carving techniques became more intricate and sophisticated. This was a major turning point in the history of jewellery. Gold was buried with the dead as it was believed that they’d carry it to the afterlife.
The jewellery of the Medieval period (1200 – 1500), reflected intense status conscious and hierarchical society. The jewels of the royalty were made using gold, silver and precious gems, while that of the locals were made using pewter or copper. The jewels were also carved with cryptic or magical inscriptions which are believed to protect the person who wears it. Particular types of stones were used to protect against different ailments or evil eye. Pearls signified purity and red gems signified the sacrificial blood shed by Jesus Christ.
By the 17th century, new styles of jewellery were introduced. While the gold jewellery suited dark coloured outfits, pearls and gemstones complemented pastel/ light coloured outfits. The cuts enhanced the beauty of the gems and made them shine brighter. The increased demand for jewellery added to the expansion of the economy.
As the 17th century saw the cutting of gemstones, the cutting of diamond made it very popular in the 18th century and it became essential for the court life. Diamonds sparkled like never before and were mounted on silver. The ornaments were painted with enamel to provide lustre. The diamonds were cut with swords and blades and were fixed in different designs.
The 19th century brought about a huge industrial and social change, but in the case of jewellery, the focus was on the old designs. In the first decay, classical designs of Greek and Rome were popular. The fresh archaeological discoveries developed an interest in antiquities. Goldsmiths imitated the jewellery that was in the style of the vintage jewellery. Naturalistic jewellery, which had easily recognizable flowers and fruits were also there. Floral designs started making appearances in the form of brooches and necklaces.
In the last years of the 19th century, art and craft became very popular. Thus, new jewellery designs started developing. The artisans rejected the machine-crafted pieces and focused more on handcrafted materials. They coloured it with natural colours.
Although buffeted by the cycles of depression, war and gloom, the jewellery in the 20th century continued to be glamorous and innovative. Sharp and geometric patterns signified the machine age, while the exotic creations made fashion expand more.
In the 21st century, jewellery has become more personalised. Though the trend of gems and precious metals has not been dead the trend of artificial jewellery has emerged. The jewellery is made to adorn and suit one's personality. The fine jewellery gives the chance to experiment, while the precious jewellery is ‘value for money'. The artificial jewellery can be worn on a daily basis even by a college going student. One doesn't need occasions to wear jewellery, they've become a part of dressing up. There was a time when the chunky pieces of jewellery were attached to tribals, today even teenage girls can carry it with great gusto. It's pocket-friendly and provides a sense of expression.
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