The Evolution Of Jewelry In Human Culture Jewelry in one form or another has been part of the human culture almost since man has been in existence. The very first jewelry known to man was made of shells, or animal claws or teeth and strung with braided grass or twine and served either as prowess of a kill or as charms. Later jewelry made of gold and gemstones was used as a form of currency and trade and as an outward display of wealth. In some parts of the world, jewelry is still used as currency today. It was the Egyptians who are credited with introducing jewelry in the form we think of jewelry today, as this culture had skilled artisans whose job was to be the “jewelers” of their era. During this time, jewelry makers refined their skills and talents and began perfecting a wide variety of styles and types of jewelry and their influence is still seen in many of today's jewelry styles. Certain designs and gemstones were believed to carry certain mystical powers so those who ruled or were of some powerful influence wore much of the jewelry. Greek and Roman jewelry was extremely varied in materials and style due to the fact that these countries relied heavily on trade from other neighboring cultures. It is the Greek and Romans that are attributed with the first cameos that remain popular today. One of the most worn types of jewelry today in Western culture is the engagement ring. Engagement rings as we know them today first came about around 1215, during the Medieval era, When Pope Innocent III instituted a mandatory waiting period prior to marriage. During this time, the intention to marry was signified by a ring, which except for the wealthiest was commonly a simple gold band. However, the very rich and wealthy gave rings to their intended that consisted of metal bands bearing gemstones. Eventually, when more of the common people could afford to purchase rings with precious stones this became the norm in many cultures. However, the most sought after stones for engagement rings were diamonds, and due to the fact that these stones were extremely rare only the very wealthy could afford these sought after gems. With the discovery of diamond mines in Africa, diamonds became more readily available, and even those people with modest means wanted their intended to wear these gemstones. Today, these stones are the most common stones in engagement and anniversary rings as well as many wedding bands. Ironically, while the variety and styles of jewelry has grown over the centuries, many of those first styles of jewelry remain. Shell jewelry and beads made of shells are still popular around the world. The bracelets one associates with the Egyptian culture are still worn by both modern women and some men and cameos remain popular in necklaces as well as earrings and pins. Almost everyone owns two or more rings these days and these rings are made from everything from wood, bone, and shells to gold, platinum, and silver with assorted colors and types of gemstones gathered from around the world. Engagement rings both plain, and those with diamonds and other precious gemstones are worn by engaged women and even men throughout the world. While jewelry has evolved in human culture it stills retains much of the form of those first pieces worn by ancient man.
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