Handmade Jewelry - Handmade and Handcrafted Jewelry Through the Ages
Handmade jewelry has been worn by people since ancient times. It has been
used to symbolize a person’s wealth and position in society, as well as for
personal adornment. Symbols used in jewelry can symbolize a person’s religious
affiliation or heritage as well.
Gold was a popular metal used to make jewelry for residents of ancient Egypt. It
was easy or jewelers to work with, and the fact that it doesn’t tarnish is
another point in this metal’s favor. Handmade jewelry fashioned from gold
included rings, bracelets and armlets. Collars of gold and pectoral ornaments
were also popular during this time.
By the time of the 13th century, townspeople were being told that they could not
wear the same type of heavily-decorated clothing worn by the nobility. They were
directed not to wear girdles or headdresses made from gold or silver. Pearls and
gemstones were also to be worn only people who were above the social class of
artisans and yeomen.
In the 17th century,
handmade jewelry was worn by women at all times. Fake pearls and paste were
very popular during this period for daytime. Paste jeweled buttons and wearing
semiprecious stones, such as garnets, were popular fads as well.
Handcrafted jewelry became less popular during the Victorian Era. The Industrial
Revolution also led to jewelry being produced on a large scale to make it more
available to the masses. Some women chose to stop wearing jewelry altogether to
protest the change in manufacturing, while others continued to have pieces
fashioned by artisans in the same way they always had.
A particular type of handmade jewelry that dates back to Victorian times
mourning jewelry. A sample of hair of a deceased loved one was braided or
twisted tightly and incorporated into brooches and pendants. When the family was
in deep mourning, no jewelry of any kind was worn. As time passed and the
mourning period lightened somewhat, women would wear mourning jewelry, including
pieces fashioned from jet or anything that was black.
Arts and crafts jewelry is another example of
handcrafted jewelry that became popular as a backlash against mass-produced
items. Polished stones were a definite part of this line of items. Simple
designs were key, but over time the public demanded handmade jewelry that was
more elaborate, and Art Nouveau became popular. These pieces featured designs of
flowers and winged birds for a very romantic look.
By the 1980s, handmade jewelry fell out of favor due to the popularity of
costume items. Bigger was better back in the day, as popular television shows
like Dynasty featured costumes with big shoulder pads and large earrings.
Handmade beaded jewelry is being worn by some people in the 21st century. Many
women choose to wear costume jewelry during the day and save a few good pieces
for special occasions only. Fashion in jewelry will continue to evolve and
change over time, but there will always be some people who choose to invest in
handcrafted jewelry to wear.