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Where does jewelry come from?

The word jewelry is derived from the word jewel.† Jewelry comprises ornamental objects worn by persons, typically made with gems and precious metals. Before written language, or the spoken word, there was jewelry. Ancient cultures used easily available items found in nature to make jewelry.

The first jewelry was made from readily available natural materials including animal teeth, bone, shells, carved stone and wood. It is believed that jewelry started out as a functional item used to fasten articles of clothing together, and was later adapted for use as an object for purely aesthetic ornamentation, or for use as a spiritual and religious symbol.

Jewelry in various forms has been made and worn by both sexes in almost every culture. Diamonds were fist used by Chinese, stone age craftsmen in China were polishing objects using diamond 2,000 years before anyone else had the same idea.

In ancient Egypt, gold was favored in jewelry making, and was often used to create everything from necklaces to head ornaments. The ancient Greeks however, preferred to use beads shaped in very natural forms, such as shells, flowers. The Greeks only wore jewelry for special occasions and jewelry was predominately worn by women.† Between the years of 2600-2400 BC, Mesopotamian jewelry was constructed of thin gold and brightly colored stones such as agate and Jasper. Crafters of this time used wide varieties of metalworking techniques. Greek and Roman jewelry, of the years 121 AD-130 AD, resembled Egyptian jewelry as it borrowed heavily from deities of that earlier period. Around this time, hoop earrings and gold bracelets were developed. During the Middle ages, jewelry was being crafted by goldsmiths, glass makers and silversmiths.

In15th century, it was hard to find a woman that was not wearing a piece of jewelry. Soon jewelry became a symbol of rank, wealth, and social standing. Jewelry has been a part of our society throughout time starting from this original date in Africa to the early Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks up to our current-day society.

In 1477 we welcomed diamond jewelry. Thatís when the actual tradition of giving a diamond engagement ring as a promise of marriage is thought to have started. Throughout time jewelry has served many forms and functions.

During the Renaissance, Napoleon revived the style of jewelry.† He developed the practice of creating suites of matching jewelry sets. In the Victorian Period, stud earrings, bar pins, black jewelry, pearl and diamond jewelry were in fashion. During this time, the costume jewelry business also began to flourish. During the Georgian period of 1714-1830, diamonds were used extensively in chandelier styled earrings and necklaces†

The modern jewelry movement began in the late 1940s at the end of World War II with a renewed interest in artistic and leisurely designs.

Today jewelry is made from almost every known material and to adorn almost every body part.† Jewelry is also made and worn by some cultures for body modification.† The US is the largest jewelry market with a market share of 30.8%,† followed by Japan, India, China, Middle East and Italy.† Earrings are the most popular type of jewelry.