Popular Jewellery and Decorations
Jewelry is a decorative art, usually made from precious metals and gemstones. It is often a sign of social status or a symbol of personal meaning, and can be worn as part of a costume. Jewellery can also be a talisman or amulet, protecting against evil, bringing good luck, and so on.
Figural images, including animals and humans, are popular motifs for both costume and fine jewelry. They may be depicted in a flat or three-dimensional miniature, and are used to decorate bracelet charms, pendants, rings, brooches and earrings.
Garland Motifs: Typically, these designs are made from carved gems or wrought gold. They are found on Renaissance, Georgian and Edwardian era jewelry, as well as contemporary pieces, but they have been in use for many years.
Tassels: Necklace tassels can be fashioned from pearls, beads carved from gemstones or even fine chains. These tassels hang from necklaces, pendants or bracelets and can be embellished with flowers, vines, birds or other patterns.
Gardinetto: Similarly, these floral patterns are usually crafted from carved gemstones or wrought gold and are seen on Renaissance, Georgian and Edwardian jewelry, as well as contemporary pieces. They are sometimes depicted as flowers rising from a basket or vase.
Mosaic: A mosaic is a design created by arranging tiny colorful pieces on a larger surface to create a pattern. Mosaics are commonly found in engraved and painted works of art, but can be made from a variety of materials, from paper to gemstones.
The term “jewelry” is derived from the Old French word, jouel, which translates as “plaything”. It is now used in British English, Indian English and New Zealand English, but in the Middle Ages was referred to as joaillerie in French and other European languages.
Jewelry has a long history in India and other countries of the Indian subcontinent, and was developed over 5,000 years. Its development was influenced by a variety of factors, including political and cultural changes.
During the Bronze Age, jewellery was made from cast or hammered sheet metals. The former was forged into various shapes and sizes using moulds, with the two halves joined together by wax or another liquid to preserve the metal work. The hammered sheet type was also common and the technique had been in use since the late Bronze Age.
Ancient Greeks were a great innovator of the gold and gemstone art, but the technique was eventually lost in the West, with most artisanship moving to China around 1500 BC. The Indus Valley Civilization, in particular, produced many forms of gold jewellery, including earrings and bracelets as early as 1500 BC.
Other forms of ancient gold jewellery include the armring (13th century BC), brooch (10th century BC) and pins (7th century BC). The form of a brooch is still a popular choice in contemporary jewelry design, although some people prefer to wear a single strand of beads instead of a brooch for convenience.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, jewellery was often associated with class and wealth, with the wealthy wearing suites of matching rings, earrings, necklaces and brooches. Napoleon Bonaparte resurrected this style when he became emperor in 1804, and the era saw cameos and parures appear for the first time, as well as the revival of costume jewellery.