It is estimated that the first forms of semi-jewelry appeared more than 75,000 years ago, in prehistoric times when it was worn by men and women. Over the years it has been refined until it became what we know today. High-quality options that follow the trends, but without losing all their class and beauty.
Since the Paleolithic period, ornaments have been considered symbols of personality as well as being great ornamental highlights. From early times, various instruments were considered as ornaments in order to adorn the people of ancient times. Stones and especially shells were used as a talisman to symbolize power, luck, and even status.
Semi Jewelry and the evolution of its history in the world!
75,000-year-old shells found in the Blombos cave in South Africa.
The shells were found about seventy-five thousand years ago in South Africa and was one of the most used instruments for adornment by the ancient people. Soon after this discovery, a black glass with a large passage of light was found in northern Iraq. The place was formerly known as Arpachiyah, and it was during excavations there that the translucent glass was found. It was quite common there, as there were volcanoes on Lake Van that had this material in large quantities.
The most amazing thing in all this history is that this glass was the masterpiece of the world's first and oldest necklace, made approximately five thousand years before Christ. The peoples of Mesopotamia demonstrated luxury and power through this ornament that was considered the greatest jewelry of the ancient world.
In the Metal Age, the evolution of mankind was great and the change was highly important for the growth of human beings. As the name says "Metal Age", the period had incredible discoveries and casting services of materials such as copper, iron, and bronze. This event was extremely necessary for the development of mankind.
Leaving northern Iraq and arriving to the south, we find the ancient city Ur. There several types of jewelry were introduced and revealed that relied on newly discovered metals, such as: gold, silver, cornaline, lapis lazuli and jasper. Excavations in ancient Sumeria (city of Ur) propagated several rich and luxurious collections. Jewelry began to be produced with these various materials. The ancient people began to produce and acquire bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and other jewelry.
Gold and cornaline beads
During the transition from the Middle to the New Empire, between 1567 and 1085 B.C., jewelry took over Egypt. Jewelry making became considered an art, in which various stones discovered at that time were used as work objects.
However, the moments of glory in the Middle East were numbered by the future scarcity of gold. Therefore, with the beginning of a crisis, due to the lack of gold, filigree started to be used as jewelry material and object of commerce all over Egypt, Turkey, and Mesopotamia. The techniques spread to other continents, such as Europe and Asia, and increasingly brought innovations in the jewelry technique.
Jewelry production did not remain only in necklaces and bracelets. With the development and improvement of bronze, in the southwest of Iran, the pieces started to be innovated. The creativity gave place to brooches, necklaces, in order to compose the beauty of the time.
The art of jewelry in various places of the world
Greece- The Greek people mixed the style of Greece with the oriental genre. In the jewelry were carved flowers, animal symbols and faces. Gold, silver and ivory were the most used materials by the people of Greece.
Italian Peninsula- In the region south of the Arno River and north of the Tiber, there was a population called "Etruscans". This people stood out for their exquisite production of jewelry technique. Filigree was a material widely used by the Etruscans.
China - In China, near the Danube and Russia, the Scythian people were concentrated. They were nomadic and distinguished themselves by their ability with bows and horses. The Scythians are considered one of the greatest goldsmiths of ancient times, besides being one of the first Indo-European peoples.
Ancient Mesopotamia- The people of Mesopotamia, called Persians, had serpents as their central characteristic. The use of gold bracelets were features of the Persian nature. The people performed a technique called Inlay, which consisted of emphasizing between stones and colored glass.
Rome- The Romans with their immense characteristic created jewelry with pearls and emeralds.
America- The combinations between gold, silver, platinum and copper characterized the pieces made in the Americas. This mixture was widely used, as it softened the purity of the metals, which alone were expensive and belonged only to the nobility.
Eastern Mediterranean - The Phoenicians used mixtures of arts present in Spain, Syria and Tunisia.
From the Middle Ages on, religion began to influence art as well. With the existence of Theocentrism, the term given to the explanation that God is the center of the Universe, the Church began to have total power over society and its composition. Goldsmiths used diamonds, gold, pearls, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, topazes, turquoises and gold and were influenced by religious art.
A great highlight in the history of jewelry was its recognition as an art, just like sculpture and painting.
The art of goldsmithing was adapted according to the artistic styles of the time and the region. The Baroque style was distinguished by spiritual conflicts, where man was caught between paganism and Christianity. In the same way, humanity was also between theocentrism and anthropocentrism. The major highlight of this style in the arts were curves and nature, interpreted by flowers and birds.
Speaking of styles, the Neoclassical style also adapted the art of jewelry. The style that was a big feature of the phase in which Napoleon Bonaparte lived, was characterized by the Greco-Roman classical style. The 20th century was marked by the popular and well-known Art Nouveau style, originating in France. This movement had as a great attribute the similarity with Baroque art.
Nature was delicately illustrated behind flowers, platinum, and ivory. Art Deco reached the 30's. At this time, the cinematographic art was on the rise, and movie actresses launched the fashion. According to Hollywood taste, trends and looks were dictated and copied. Jewelry was used a lot, in order to compose the model. The pieces were characterized by their modern design, with simple materials, besides being very versatile.
In Europe, after World War II, women started to take care of themselves and to treat jewelry as a primary attribute of beauty. Gold and pearl were widely used materials. The pieces enjoyed color combinations such as turquoise and coral.
Speaking of diversity, the 50s were marked by the various ways of making jewelry. There were industrialized jewels that were produced with rare gems and handcrafted jewels, which had as raw material, simpler and more accessible purposes. The most amazing thing is the innovation that was introduced in the 1970s: the design was mixed with plastic material and even paper.
As we have already said, jewelry had its apex in the Middle Ages, but it was an object that belonged only to the wealthy classes and thus designated the economic aspects of the era. The society was highly divided in the medieval period and the value of jewelry was very high, reaching the fashion and noble market. The price was denominated by the size of its gem.
But what are gems anyway?
It is a precious stone from a mineral full of brilliance, its special coloration is its great distinguishing feature. It is specially cut to be used in jewelry, and has a hardness that symbolizes power. Gems are rare and represent everything that is concrete in earthly life. The mineral has an unusual beauty and is characterized by being a natural and exclusive mineral.
Still talking about antiquity, in the 13th century sapphire was preferred by many people. The market was expanding and bringing novelties such as ruby. In the following fourteenth century, ruby and sapphire gave way to diamonds, which at the time became the most expensive and valuable gemstone in almost all of Europe. Portugal and Spain were left out of this appreciation for the diamond, as they had another gem, considered the most preferable and valuable: the emerald. Besides these fabulous and beautiful stones, another gemstone stood out in the world of jewelry. Pearls were in great demand and sold in large quantities.
The world of jewelry encompassed all the nobility: kings and princes, clergy, rich merchants, in short, the nobility in general. The merchants had few gems, which at the time were considered investments and financial reserves for any unforeseen trade. The nobles used jewelry as adornment, in order to demonstrate luxury, wealth, and power. Gems were also widely used in the transaction of political and commercial agreements.
At the time of the navigations, the voyages sponsored by the Portuguese and the Spanish were fully related to the commercial transaction of western gemstones. When Columbus discovered "the New World" (America) in the year 1492, the transaction of emeralds, silver and gold had a growing evolution in the commercial world. This was because in South America several mines were discovered that contributed to the greater wealth of Spain and Portugal.
As we have seen, the history of jewelry spanned the entire world, with social, cultural, and even religious transformations as its main characteristics. But what about Brazil? When does it enter this history? It can be said that since April 1500 (at the time of the Discovery) Brazil has already started its history in the world of jewelry, besides helping in the development of the pieces. When the Portuguese arrived on the Brazilian coast and found the natives, they saw that they adorned themselves with seeds, animal bones and bird feathers. With this, the exchange of goods in Brazil began to take place. The Portuguese would give gifts to the indigenous tribes in exchange for Brazilian riches.
In the 16th century, Brazil was beginning to understand the good use of jewelry. Its use was rare, but the men and women who dribbled this rarity stood out and showed the fashion coming from Portugal and Europe in general. There was no tradition of jewelry, it was imported. Until then, Brazil had no culture of producing pieces and goldsmiths.
At the time, adornments were rare. The rare ornaments were used on both women's and men's clothing. These clothes were decorated with so-called auilletes (fine, small ornaments made of gold). What was most used as decorative adornment in Brazil was devotional jewelry. That is, crosses, monograms, small religious sculptures, nautical symbols, and pieces with the letters IHS (Iesus Hominibus Salvatoren, in Latin). The very rare jewelry from colonial Brazil consisted of cameo pendants and brooches.
The 17th century brought a new style to all the arts: the Baroque. Jewelry became a symbol of society and status, in which the number of gems present became essential in the analysis of the jewelry. In the previous period, design was completely art-oriented, which was lost with the onset of the Baroque style. In this century, the decoration turned to nature, emphasizing flowers and birds. The main ornaments were laces, shoe buckles, as well as earrings and rings.
In the following century (XVIII), the Bandeirantes began intense expeditions throughout the country. This diligence resulted in enormous discoveries of various mines, where gold, diamonds, emeralds and topazes were found. Between the years 1700 and 1800 more than a thousand tons of gold and millions of carats of diamonds were extracted from Brazil. The wealth of the country was very great.
In this same century, Brazil had a great historical event: the slave trade. Because of the exploration, discovery and extraction of the Brazilian mines, about two million Africans were destined to the Brazilian port.
The blacks and mulattos learned several artistic expressions characterized in the Baroque style, and with the mixture of styles from Africa, the slaves started to produce beautiful pieces of jewelry. Besides the slaves, Brazil became a magnet for thousands of migrants, who considered the country rich, for its strong exploitation of gold and gems.
With the great immigration, growth in commercial production was stimulated. Cattle breeding grew and sugar cane and coffee plantations developed more and more. With this, new cities and states began to emerge.
When the Portuguese court arrived in Brazil, it brought with it many jewelry professionals, in addition to engravers. With this, the development in the making, production and commerce of Brazilian jewelry became increasing. The great predominance in the XIX century were diamonds and floral jewelry models, well focused on the baroque style.
With this incredible development, Brazil attracted several works of Portuguese and Spanish goldsmiths. The country began to produce ornaments with abundant characteristics of the several gems existing in the country. The ornaments became heavy because of the quantity of stones used in each piece. Brazil continued to give preference to the baroque style.
The art of jewelry developed and the baroque style gave way to the new style of the 19th century, the neoclassical. The arts started to be inspired by the Roman and Greek styles. With this new segment in art, women's and men's clothing and jewelry design became more simplified. This style and this new characteristic was a mirror of the conflicts and political changes that occurred in Europe, in the Americas, and then a historical event: the French Revolution.
The seat of the Portuguese monarchy was transferred to Brazil, in the year 1808, due to Napoleon Bonaparte's threats to invade Portugal. With this event, the history of jewelry began to grow and evolve more and more. This was the apex of the Brazilian economy, the receiving of immigrants from various nationalities, resulting in the flow of manufactured goods.
In addition, the Brazilian industrialization had a strong growth. In the presence of the Portuguese court, the women of Brazil began to care for and establish themselves in accordance with the kingdom. Brazilian ladies began to frequent stores and hairdressers, and the request for goldsmiths at the time became paramount.
Brazil began to seek its independence and this was also reflected in the production of jewelry. Jewelry started to acquire its own personality and characteristics and to follow the Brazilian style: Romanticism. The themes were mirrored in flowers, in the fauna, and in the indigenous personality. Finally, Brazil proclaimed its independence on September 7, 1822.
The crown of the first Brazilian emperor, Pedro I, was made by goldsmiths in the state of Rio de Janeiro and weighed about 3 kilos of gold. After emancipation Brazil began to have jewelry decorated according to the colors of its new flag.
The event of the Industrial Revolution made Brazilian society face low taxes, thus transforming itself into a more elitist community. The taste for luxury became strong in the 1860s, and the country's boom period. After the discovery of the mines in South Africa, the desire to adorn oneself became even greater.
But for Brazil (as an economy), these discoveries became a big headache. Diamonds started to be produced in large quantities by the South African mines. This caused Brazil to lose its position as world producer of diamonds.
When D. Pedro I abdicated the throne in order to pass it on to his son, the history of jewelry in Brazil passed through another major milestone. The crown of D. Pedro II elegantly illustrated the development of jewelry making and production in the country. The crown was adorned with national gems. In all, there were 640 brilliants and 77 pearls.
Finally we come to the famous event of 1922: the Week of Modern Art. This event marked the beginning of modernism in Brazil. Its main focus was to make the Brazilian culture understand the European thoughts and adapt to them. The high society from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro ordered their jewelry directly from Europe (most of the time from Paris). However, Brazilian goldsmiths also did their best to produce national pieces.
Brazilian jewelry began to be made, based on the modernist movement. The modern style went through the period of the Second World War. New museums were founded starting in 1945. With the existence of these postcards, the arts in Brazil began to be publicized in fundamental ways. The purchase of jewelry became not only for its use, but also, as a form of investment.
Nowadays, in the 21st century, we have reached an incredible evolution in the history of jewelry, both worldwide and in Brazil. The making and production of the pieces are completely focused on design. Today, the mixture of materials, formats and techniques has caused the pieces to change in a modern and beautiful way.
Today, jewelry designs are considered true artists, using different materials in order to make the jewelry a work of art. The mixture of cultures and histories makes the designs innovative and at the same time, search in the past, the origins of jewelry.
Speaking of semi-jewelry, we do not go much further. The concept of this type of jewelry is somewhat more recent than you might imagine. However, its history has been given by the existence of all this chronology that we have just told. Remember that since prehistoric times, precious materials were mixed with other types of materials such as bones, teeth and stones?
The same is true in contemporary times, of course with a radical change in materials. Today, in a way, jewelry is still used to represent power. However, some materials needed to make jewelry have become rare. As a solution to this scarcity, semi-jewelry emerged and gained space in the jewelry fashion world.
As we have seen, the history of jewelry, which automatically includes semi-jewelry, has undergone major changes and developed in accordance with the periods and eras. Today, the jewelry or semi-jewelry are much sought after and used by all kinds of people, without prejudice. The semi-jewelry is a way to break the social diversity, making it possible for everyone to have access to beautiful and good quality jewelry pieces.