3:48 AM Posted by myjewel
1. Palaeolithic age
As a species, we love to adorn ourselves with jewelry, makeup, hair accessories. We do it now to enhance our looks, to attract a mate and because it just makes us feel good about ourselves. Some forms of adornment are symbolic – like wedding rings. Or they’re used to make a statement about our lifestyle, like multiple piercings and earrings.
Have you ever wondered what the origins are of such self-decoration? Was there a meaning behind it? Or did we just start wearing beads, necklaces and earrings as our awareness of self increased and as we evolved?
We know that the earliest jewelry of bits of bones, shells and other personal adornments appeared in graves about 40,000 years ago. The idea that there was an afterlife, and the belief in spirits both good and bad, gave rise to the means to attract the good spirits and ward off the bad ones.
People protected themselves from evil spirits with adornments in the form of necklaces or bracelets, and pierced themselves with the same bones and shells to have these amulets on their persons at all times. At this time people also started painting their bodies with red ochre, which can be considered the earliest form of makeup. They also started lining their eyes with kohl to protect themselves against the force known as the “Evil Eye.”
Even today, much jewelry takes the form of amulets. People wear crosses around their necks, or the Star of David, or wear a claddagh ring – all to attract good fortune or ward off bad luck. There are even more throwbacks to this earliest form of magic, such as a lucky rabbit’s foot, or a lucky penny. Or we often have less well known, more personal amulets that have a meaning to us alone, but are still worn as good luck charms and amulets.
2 Minerals are crystals
The earliest forms of jewelry were items that early humans found naturally, such as shells or bits of bones. Early gravesites have also revealed that pre-historic man buried his dead with flowers and with carved ivory beads. These primitive beads would have taken at least an hour each to make.
Early man also might have found bits of turquoise that occurred naturally in areas of Turkey and North America. The pearlescent swirls found inside an abalone or conch would have also been used as jewelry.
They might have also found the earliest types of precious gems in the form of natural crystals, such as quartz or diamonds. Crystals are solid substances where the molecules are arranged in a symmetrical fashion, and they generally fall into one of six shapes:
Isometric, or cubic crystals are shaped like blocks and are symmetrically shaped. An example of an isometric crystal would be pyrite. This is also called fool’s gold because it has a metallic yellow or brassy color similar to gold.
Tetragonal, where the crystals are shaped like four-sided prisms and pyramids. An example of a tetragonal crystal is the zircon.
Hexagonal crystals are shaped like six-sided prisms, or pyramids. An example of this kind of crystal is the beryl, which includes gems like emeralds and aquamarines.
Orthorhombic crystals. An example of an orthorhombic crystal is topaz. Topaz can come in a variety of colors, although the mostly highly prized is a deep amber color. At one time, topaz was much more valuable, until rich veins of it were found in Brazil, which devalued the market.
Monoclinic crystals are short and stubby, with tilted faces at each end. Monoclinic crystals include gypsum.
Triclinic crystals are usually flat with sharp edges but no right angles. Each crystal has three unequal axes. An example of triclinic crystal is feldspar.