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Modern Jewelry’s Ancient Past

Modern Jewelry’s Ancient Past

Humanity has always adorned their bodies with items to make themselves look unique. Just recently, it was discovered that Neanderthals actually did the same thing (A very interesting article, that you can find here.) Jewels, seashells, and pieces of stone were often used to show off elegance and social status. But it took quite a while for humans to gain the ability to meld metal into items they could put onto their bodies. Even after that point, it took a very long time for ancient jewelry to shift into our modern concept of elegance.

The Origins of Jewelry

Being situated in the middle of the known world has its perks, and that’s what made the Persian Empire so strong. Since it was in the middle of what was called the ‘Silk Road,’ the Persians were able to pick up practices from both Asia and the Western world. Some of the earliest evidence of gem cutting comes from India, but the Persians perfected the process, and began adding gems and stones to metal bands that were often made of silver and gold. These bands were often worn on the head, arms, and hands, and were a symbol of social status and wealth. Up until the 320s BCE, the Persians were in control of some of the largest known gold deposits at the time, but all of that was about to change.

Jewelry in the West

The Greeks were no strangers to wearing jewelry, and often wore metal bands as crowns, or created burial masks made out of gold. But, after Alexander the Great conquered most of the world, the art of Persian gem cutting made its way into the western world. During the ‘Hellenistic Period,’ which ranged from ~325 to ~150 BCE, the practices that had been perfected by the Persians made their way to all of the Hellenistic kingdoms. The Greeks gained control over the vast gold reserves of the Persians, and began using it to their advantage. The simpler bands and pins that were once worn by the Greeks became more extravagant and detailed, all thanks to the original jewelry cultures, the Indians and the Persians.

Although many years have passed since the Hellenistic ended, most of our modern western cultural concepts, especially the wearing and manufacturing of jewelry, credit this time period for their beginnings. Jewelry had been around for thousands of years before Alexander the Great, but it took his conquests to bring the more sophisticated eastern practices into the western world.


Here at Gold Unlimited, we take pride in knowing that we’re carrying on a tradition that has lasted thousands of years. You may not be the King of Persia or Alexander the Great, but, to us, you’re just as important, and so is your jewelry selection. Click the button below to view some of our selection or come into the store and we’ll make sure that you leave looking like royalty.

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