There are few things as timeless as a well-crafted jewelry piece. However, even the most classic designs go through changes over time, adapting to the latest trends. In this blog post, we’ll look at how jewelry has evolved over the years and some of the most popular trends that have emerged. Whether you’re looking for a new piece of jewelry for your collection or just curious about how jewelry trends have evolved, this post is for you!
Early humans started making jewelry by stringing primitive stone beads together. The oldest known bead was found in a cave in the Republic of Georgia, where archaeologists estimate it dates back over 40,000 years! People mostly used these rough-cut stones for necklaces and bracelets.
Stone beads later evolved into more refined gemstones like carnelian, amber, and jade. These materials were often used in cameos, which are small pieces of carved stone framed by a contrasting background.
The next major leap forward in jewelry was the advent of metal beads, including copper and bronze. Metal beads were more uniform than their stone predecessors, making them easier to produce. Archaeologists find beads in various shapes throughout all parts of the world, especially in Africa and South America.
The discovery of precious metals like gold and silver drastically changed the face of jewelry. With precious metals, jewelers could make jewelry from a single piece of metal instead of stringing them together or molding the shapes by hand. This allowed artists to incorporate new designs and techniques.
Gold and silver were beloved for their ability to take a beating while remaining beautiful. Early civilizations quickly began using precious metals to create religious artifacts, jewelry, and coins.
Greeks & Romans
The Greeks got their hands on gold when they defeated the Persians in battle. They were so enthusiastic about this newfound treasure that they even made their gods out of it! Gold’s popularity remains undiminished to this day. Many gold jewelry items come from recycled material.
Romans were the first to make coins out of precious metals like silver and gold. They were also known for their intricate designs and detailed engravings, which often appeared on silverware, other household items, and jewels. The Romans also began using stones like carnelian, amethyst, and jade instead of only gold and silver.
People generally didn’t own much jewelry during the Middle Ages. The crown confiscated personal possessions to fund wars. It was especially hazardous to carry around expensive jewelry during times of strife, so it wasn’t until after these conflicts that jewels re-emerged in full force. Kings and queens commissioned pieces from jewelers.
During this period, both men and women wore rings made of base metals like copper or silver. Oftentimes these were the pieces they could afford. Noblewomen were the only ones who could don the more expensive jewels that we’re familiar with today. These stones were either inherited or given to women as gifts from their husbands.
Jewelry reached its peak during the Renaissance period. Goldsmiths wanted to recreate designs they saw in classical antiquity without being derivative. They began using a variety of metals to create jewels instead of just gold.
This period saw an explosion in diamond popularity, which the Romans thought to have occult powers. Jewelers often paired diamonds with colored stones like sapphires and emeralds. Pearls also rose in esteem because they fit the popular royalty theme.
18th to 20th Century
In the 18th and 19th centuries, jewels became a political tool. Royalty would donate jewels as a sort of bribe. An impressive diamond or emerald on a necklace or ring was a very effective way to get what you wanted. This practice is known as “tribute.”
Queen Victoria helped popularize jewels in the early 20th century, especially with her extensive collection of tiaras. Her love for them passed on to her children and their spouses, further increasing the popularity of jewels.
The beginning of the 21st century saw a rise in bespoke pieces. More and more often, consumers want handcrafted, custom pieces that are entirely unique. This reflects a greater desire to have things nobody else can have! The major jewelry houses continue to develop new designs every season, while independent artists create one-of-a-kind masterpieces for customers who value craftsmanship.
The Millennium Era marks the advent of new gemstones like moissanite, which are actually more brilliant than diamonds. These stones are also much cheaper to obtain because they grow in laboratories. Moissanite also has a lower carbon footprint than diamond mining, so it’s easier for jewelers to feel good about using it.
Jewelry Today: Gen Z
Monochromatic, minimalist designs are out. The Gen Z jewelry styles now focus on vibrant, rich, and loud colors with eye-catching designs. This new jewelry reflects the desire to stand out as an individual rather than blend in with a crowd. This trend is likely to continue as more people realize they don’t need to conform to society and that there’s beauty in being unique.
The evolution of jewelry parallels the major historical and political trends throughout Western civilization. From functional items to status symbols to fine works of art, jewelry will continue to change as society changes. How jewelry trends have evolved is living proof that fashion will continue to change as the world advances.
It is a very influential and powerful way to express emotions and identity. There will always be something we can do to be both innovative and fashionable. The future of jewelry shows that it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!