Your pieces of jewelry are more than just sparkly ornaments. Behind every precious metal and gem, there are intriguing facts and captivating symbols so, if you are eager to broaden your horizons with some exciting information, read on to be amazed. Your treasure box will gain a whole new meaning starting today.
Modern women can thank Archduke Maximilian of Austria for the sparklers shining on their fingers. He was the one who introduced the tradition of the engagement ring by gifting his beloved fiancée, Mary of Burgundy, a gold diamond ring as a token of his love. What a man of class.
Humans always loved the idea of jewelry. Take our Cro-Magnon ancestors, for example, whose trinkets were made from bones, teeth (thanks, but no thanks!), berries or stones threaded on the simple string or animal ligaments.
Ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians were the true pioneers in jewelry production. Their progress in gem collecting and metallurgy opened the path to the following civilizations to perfect the art of jewelry making. We bet they never imagined jewels would come such a long way!
Since natural pearls are pretty rare, most pearls nowadays are man-made. Tiny shells are inserted into oysters which will naturally cover the shell with nacre over three or more years. That’s quite a wait.
Pearls are precious for a reason. Only 1 forms out of every 10.000 oysters. Ouch!
The oldest piece of jewelry known to man is over 100.000 years old and it’s a string of beads made from Nassarius shells, a species of snails living in mud or sand flats. Talk about humble beginnings…
Free language lesson: we constantly use the word “jewelry”, but few of us really know it comes from the old French word “ jouel” which derived from the Latin “jocale” meaning “plaything”.
What was once popular in terms of jewelry today would be considered gross. We are talking about live insect jewels (eww, we know, right?) that were an attraction in Victorian Britain with people wearing enormous live beetles attached to their clothing by dainty gold chains. This macabre practice was started by Egyptians who would wear beetles into battle. Fancy that!
Jewelry was a strong indication of status throughout history. In fact, in Ancient Rome only the higher ranks could wear rings. So grateful for modern times.
Wedding rings were never popular among men until the 20th century. It was strictly a women’s thing. But jewelers came with this clever find which literally doubled their sales and, by the mid 40’s most North American brides and grooms had each their own rings. Smart!
Why do people wear wedding bands on the ring fingers? In ancient times it was believed that the vein of love, romantically called Vena Amoris, went through the third finger of the left hand straight to the heart. Well, know that this vein is fictitious. But still…all together now…awww!
Regardless of the above belief, there are countries, such as Russia, Germany, Spain, or India where the engagement ring is worn on the right hand. Party poopers.
Gorgeous silver has been used as a material for jewelry for more than 6000 years now. Can you imagine the ridiculous amount of silver ornaments produced over this amount of time? We can’t.
Curious to find out which actress had the honor of wearing the most expensive jewelry item ever made for a movie? It was Australian Nicole Kidman and the stunning piece, expected to sell for $1 million, was a platinum necklace with no less than 1308 diamonds. Lucky lady…
Ancient Chinese had a soft spot for silver which, in the beginning, they used much more than gold for creating jewelry. Their obsession, however, was with semi-precious jade, a stone they praised for its beauty and durability. Great taste, might we add.
For centuries, Asians have been swallowing powdered pearls as a cure for an upset stomach. Being made of calcium carbonate, the precious stone acts as a great antacid (quite an expensive one, if you ask us).
Legend has it that birthstones date back to the time of Biblical Moses. Apparently, the breast plate of the High Priest bore 12 colored stones representing the 12 Israeli tribes, each with its own color. Quick quiz: what’s your birthstone?
For the past 100 years, South Africa has been the world’s number one gold supplier. The largest provider of the precious metal is now China. Aren’t they the world’s greatest provider for literally anything, anyway?
What’s the thing with karats? The Karatage measures how pure the gold percentage in an item actually is. Since a gold karat is 1/24 part of a whole, a 24K piece is actually made of 100% pure gold. Simple maths.
The color of pure gold is always yellow. To obtain pink, white and other colors gold must be blended with other metals. Which shade tickles your fancy?
The New World is the primary source for silver today. The leading producer is Mexico, followed by Peru. Another reason to love our jewelry collections.
A single grain of silver can be pressed into a sheet that is 150 times thinner than a sheet of paper. Amaze.
Silver happens to be the best thermal conductor of any metal. Do you know the lines in the rear window of your car? They consist of silver and they help defrost ice in winter. Beautiful and useful. How can we not heart silver?
Ag is the chemical symbol for silver and it derives from the Latin word argentum meaning silver. The actual name of silver originates from the Old English word seolfor.
One of the first five metals to ever be discovered around 5000 B.C., silver has been used for creating various objects since 4000 BC. And we still haven’t had enough of it yet!
Folklore associates silver with the capacity to fight paranormal creatures like werewolves and vampires. Our advice: wear it also when you meet your boss or your mother-in-law.
Before the 19th-century silver jewelry indicated the status of its wearer. In fact, there were only a privileged few who could wear it. This changed with the industrial revolution when mass manufacturing made jewelry more affordable. Hurrah!
Beautiful silver is not only used for crafting jewelry. It has been used throughout history for mirrors, coins, photography, dentistry, musical instruments and more. Talk about versatile!
Semi-precious amber is actually fossilized tree sap. It is at least 20 million years old. Such a privilege to be wearing a stone so rich with history.
Thanks to all the small insects trapped inside amber stones, this gem has proved extremely useful to paleontologists for reconstructing the primal phases of life on earth. Imagine that over 1000 extinct insect species have been identified with the help of amber. Impressive.
Ancient Assyrians were not shy when it came to jewelry. They used to wear ridiculous amounts of jewelry like ankle bracelets, amulets, and huge multi-strand necklaces. Honestly, we don’t blame them.
Stunning turquoise, associated with Native American jewelry, can only be found today in a few places, the biggest area being the South-West of the USA. Do you love it as much as we do?
The Aztecs considered turquoise to be sacred and used it for making spectacular masks and adornments worn in ceremonies and rituals.
Turquoise is believed to be a holy stone which helps people get rid of negative vibes. It also increases self-confidence and its wonderful blue color is the symbol of happiness. Have you got yours yet?
Ink black obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass that has only formed near active volcano's.
Obsidian appears different in color according to the direction it is cut. It can be jet black but, when cut across another direction, it appears gray. Fascinating!
Topaz is a highly mystical stone. For Egyptians, it was a great amulet to protect from injury. Romans believed it improved eyesight, while the Greeks were convinced it made its wearer invisible in case of emergency. What would you wear it for?
Pink topaz was discovered in the 19th century in Russia. The stone was so desired that only the Czar and his family could own it. The perks of being royal.
Associated with female energy and the Moon, silver stands for focus, purity, and persistence. Got that, ladies?
Topaz is believed to strengthen the intellect and drive away sadness promoting good spirits. Make sure you’re wearing yours at all times.
Sterling silver is pure silver alloyed with other metals to give it the durability it lacks. Made of at least 92.5% pure silver, the remainder is normally copper.
In the past, lapis lazuli was ground into powder and used for medicinal elixirs and eye shadow. Michelangelo used this powder to create the famous ultramarine color pigment for his Renaissance paintings. A great reason for you to visit the Sistine Chapel in Vatican.
It is believed that sleeping with a citrine stone under the pillow alleviates nightmares, helps recall dreams and promotes good sleep. Why didn’t we think of this before?
The word onyx derives from a Greek word meaning claw or fingernail. According to a famous legend, while Venus was sleeping Cupid cut her fingernails leaving the clippings scattered on the ground. The Gods turned them into stone, later known as onyx. Don’t you find legends utterly dreamy?
The word “bracelet” originates from the Latin brachile which means “of the arm”. The first bracelets date back to Ancient Egypt (7000 BC) when they were made of wood and bones and symbolized religious or spiritual ideas. We’d rather stick to contemporary styles, thank you!
Since necklaces were the pieces of jewelry worn closest to the heart, they were originally crafted to attract love and make it stronger. Romance is not dead, right?
In the 1840s earrings became obsolete because hair at the time was styled to cover the ears entirely. Women who had their ears pierced started using small loop earrings to bed at night lest their holes should close. These are today’s sleeper earrings.
Around the 5th century, BC Etruscans would wear earrings which had special compartments for perfume. Why wouldn’t jewelry makers think of this today?
The Catholic Church forbade body decorations in the 13th century, and that’s when most men ceased wearing earrings. The only ones who continued doing it were the pirates, who did not follow church rules. After a while earrings steadily became exclusively women’s accessories.
Thank God for safe-deposit boxes! In Viking times people would bury their jewelry in secret spots to keep it safe. If they happened to forget the exact spot where their hoard was buried or, worse, if they died, these collections could lie underground for centuries. What a waste…
Feeling inspired after having learned these captivating facts? Feel free to add any interesting facts that you might know. Leave in your comments!