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Nov 09, 2016

History of Egyptian Jewelry

With its rich history and cultural influence, it should come to no surprise that Egyptian jewelry is just as big and heavily embellished as one would imagine. Egyptian jewelry has distinctive features whether they are ancient or modern. They contain symbols relevant to the culture like pharaoh heads, snakes and large geometric shapes.

Egyptian jewelry tends to be metallic, made of gemstones and glass or other metals like copper or bronze. Many times the jewelry is encased in glass and the jewelry features sharp designs and embossing to create unique texture. Sometimes rings feature carved scarabs rather than simple gemstones.

For ancient jewelry, the main materials used were copper and gold. Copper was more affordable for common citizens and gold signified the more gentry and established class. Unlike western countries, some of the gold came in shades of red-brown and rose. Gold dominated the Egyptian era so it is well represented in its jewelry. This is especially true because gold was one of the first valuable metals to be discovered.  Vintage Egyptian jewelry also featured semiprecious stones like turquoise, garnet, obsidian and emeralds.

Egyptian jewelry sometimes represents the religious undertones of the culture. Pendants and necklaces sometimes show gods like Shu (god of air) and Atum-Ra, the sun god. Other than those references, vintage Egyptian jewelry have a remarkable resemblance to jewelry today. Necklaces consisted of colored beads strung together and sometimes glass was used with gemstones.

Special characteristics of Egypt are evident in color scheme and the use of beads, which were versatile, not to mention inexpensive, and popular materials for necklaces. Other countries’ jewelry tends to be more colorful than Egypt’s. That’s because colors represented specific motifs and ideas for Egyptians. Blue was rebirth, silver was the moon, and gold/yellow symbolized royalty and reverence.

Vintage Egyptian jewelry is often renowned for its iconography as much as it is for its aesthetic appeal. Certainly, there are few civilizations that were as influential as early Egyptians and the jewelry showcases the human desire to decorate. So if you’re looking for something historic and influential, something that holds a bit of mystical reverence, then vintage Egyptian jewelry is for you.

(photo credit) 

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