100 Millennia of Jewelry: From Ancient, Geometric, Organic, to LARIMAR Gems and More
Posted on March 09 2016
For more than 100,000 years, jewelry has posed as a social stamp, a sensory magnet, a talisman for rituals, and an emblem for self-expression. It’s always been part of our culture that even the early humans saw beauty in natural elements and wore pieces made of feathers, stones, shells, bones, wood, animal skins, and plants. From then on, our ancestors found ways to merge art and technology to create jewelry out of metals and gems that in the course of time, inspired different cultures and modern art to recreate such a thing of wonder.
Today, modern artists continue to transcend contemporary with hints of past styles to break into new forms. With unique materials such as textiles, photographs, steel, plastic, and taxidermy, together with precious gems like Diamond and Larimar, jewelry of the “Now” showcases a blend of geometric and organic forms that can give the wearer a deep sense of nature polished in modern sleek.
Evolution of Jewelry
Our thirst for style evolution may never falter, but the purpose of jewelry is always the same – to give us the freedom to express ourselves and to express our feelings to another person. This non-verbal connection urged us to foster a timeless symbol. From ancient adornments made of bones and shells to modern Larimar jewelry, such pieces helped in carving our civilization into a more colorful and vibrant world.
Let’s take a trip back to over 100 millennia of jewelry and discover embellishments you’ve never heard before!
Jewelry in the prehistoric times were made from bones, shells, and stones. They’re worn as protection from predators or as a symbol of rank. The discovery of how to use metals became a vital phase in the progress of jewelry making in the ancient period. As time passed, techniques for metalwork became more refined and the embellishments more elaborate. Many archaeological jewelry, such as Gold, were dug from tombs and hoards as they believe they can take it to the afterlife. Some traditions like the Celtic Ireland, had their gold collars folded in half as a ritual for the disposal of their jewelry.
During 1200 –1500, medieval Europe viewed jewelry as an insignia of hierarchy and societal status. Royals and noble people wore precious gems like gold and silver, while those of lower ranks wore copper and pewter. The color of the gems, its coating, and its protective properties were put on a pedestal. Gems were never cut up until the late 14th century. They’re only polished as the size and color gauge their value. Goldsmiths were able to dress their designs with multiple colors by grinding glass and firing them at high heat onto a metal surface. And some pieces have secret engravings that could protect the wearer from harm.
The renaissance age was a time of grandeur. It was greatly seen on the jewelry pieces that had vivified their passion for majesty. Coating became more complex, ornate, and vibrant, while cutting styles magnified the shimmer of the jewels. The power of religion and politics were heavily shared in jewelry designs to display their strong belief and political stature. The designs showcased their fondness for the classical world, mythology, and portraits with gems masterfully engraved.
New jewelry styles and techniques were fostered because of the growing variety in fashion in the mid-17th century. Freshly discovered soft pastel shades were used as elegant backgrounds for pearls and gems, while dark fabrics were accentuated by intricate gold jewelry. Because of the expansion of worldwide trade, gemstones are made accessible for all. New cutting techniques made jewels shine even in candlelight. The favorite was the breast ornament stitched with ornate embellishments and precious gems that has captured femininity at its most graceful form.
As the Baroque era ended, brilliant-cut gems are born. It has rapidly improved with its multiple facets. Diamond graced the world stage and has conquered jewelry design ever since. It was always paired with silver to bring contrast to the piece and vivify its clear shade. Sets of diamonds jewels were spread all over an outfit and the bigger ones were displayed around the bodice. Because of its high value, owners were able to resell or repurpose the gems into new designs.
LAURA BONETTI Canoa Collection - Larimar Ring Reminiscent of the Georgian Period
During the Victorian era, industrial and social change vastly advanced, but jewelry designs were still reflected from the past. Classical styles reminiscent of the glory days of the Roman and Greek culture became popular in the early decades. Because of archaeological findings, this period’s curiosity of the ancient times escalated. And with this new interest, goldsmiths were inspired to forge designs with the antique style in mind.
Another celebrated kind of jewelry are naturalistic pieces adorned with flowers and fruit influenced by the advancement of botany and the Romantic poet, Wordsworth. The soft details of the 1850’s design became more regal and intricate with elaborate flowers and foliage arrangements. It is used to depict messages of love and friendship.
Arts & Crafts
Since the boom of the industrialized society in the previous period, the Arts and Crafts movement was born to restore the art of the natural world. Enthusiasts banned machine-led factories which is today’s source of the most affordable pieces, and initiated handcrafting jewels. This began their belief that hands on work will nourish the soul of the designer and in turn produce a better piece. Jewelers of the Arts and Crafts movement used more natural looking cabochons with significant meaning like the Larimar Stone rather than large, heavily cut, and mainstream stones like Diamond.
The Garland Style or Art Nouveau prevailed in the Paris International Exhibition around 1900 and caused a sensational stir in the jewelry design. Enthusiasts made vine-like designs using organic pieces with hints of death and erotica, far from the previous eras’ flowery detailing. Art Nouveau jewelers strayed away from mainstream precious stones and highlighted the gentle composition of horn, glass, and enamel. Their style’s eccentric look was not for everyone, but they believed that “art should become part of everyday life” and created pieces made out of organic forms.
Banged by war and depression, the jewelry design from the 20’s to the 50’s stood stern in showcasing pieces of allure and innovation. Structured, geometric patterns were incorporated to glorify the machine age, while the Near and Far East influenced exotic designs. New York competed with Paris for the ‘mecca of fashion’ crown. Gold became cheaper than platinum and returned in 1933. Then compact gemstones ruled the Art Deco jewelry. Even different artists and designers from other creative arenas became interested in jewelry design.
Contemporary and Beyond
The 1960’s spearheaded the constant modification of conventions. Jewelry norms have been defied by successors of creative jewelers who typically finished art degrees and were dressed in fresh notions of design. Unorthodox techniques and materials like paper and plastic changed the old stigma they’ve been carrying for decades – that wearing jewelry is a symbol of prestige and social grade. The term “avant-garde” was then christened and artist-jewelers have breached into a whole new connection of art and the human body, creating offbeat pieces that challenges comfort to produce wearable art.
Today’s jewelry is loud and daring, but touches on the essentials of the previous eras. We now blend the glamour of the 30’s, the vibrance of the 60’s, and ever-new styles to make heads turn. Since it’s no longer seen as a social indicator, jewelry became a form of self-expression and can be produced with affordable and more accessible materials. Jewelry of today depicts that everything can be done.
Jewelry Trend Today
Retro designs are coming back with a bang. Rooting from the Art Deco era where the focus is on geometric designs, this trend features linear lines perpendicular to the gemstones’ shapes. The pieces are structured and angular decked with pattern and symmetry. Although the designs are industrial, they never lack in artfulness. Rubies, Emeralds, and Larimar Stones bring the bold jewelries to life, while Red Coral and Black Onyx are used as accent shades.
Organic forms were inspired by the Art Nouveau period. The philosophy stays the same; jewelry elements can come from any part of one’s life. It evokes a natural pull for many people as it embodies the simple beauty of nature. It’s poetic and whimsical, but stays true to its elements. Designs came from the most evident to the smallest symbols of life. Leaves, vines, twigs, seaweeds, flowers, insects, birds, and sea elements donned with precious stones like Diamond and Larimar, are some of the organic accents used to animate this magnificent kind of jewelry.
Larimar is currently captivating the world with its beauty and rarity. It’s one of the most precious stones in the globe and can only be found in one location – in the Dominican Republic. With its cerulean blue shade topped with white veins, Larimar depicts a delicate brew of the sky and sea. It can be paired with any form of jewelry from any era. May it be cut as a Renaissance-inspired pendant or an Art Deco piece, Larimar can shine amidst the rest.
Jewelry is a universal mold of beauty. It can change through time, but the essence lives on.
Visit Larimar.com to find out more