Artemission’s Guide to Ancient Egyptian Jewellery
The kingdom of ancient Egypt used personal adornment to indicate personal status. This led the artisans of this fascinating land to create many intricate pieces of jewellery, some of which can be found on Artemission.com
Prosperous ancient power
By 3100 B.C., the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt had been united into a single crown. This was the beginning of ancient Egypt, a country which quickly grew in prosperity to become the dominant power of the ancient world for centuries.
With power comes wealth, and the ancient Egyptians prided themselves on their ability to show the status of their society to the world of antiquity. They placed high value in personal adornment, meaning that men and women of every social caste throughout the land wore jewellery as a marker of their wealth and standing within the ancient Egyptian hierarchy.
Jewellery in ancient Egypt
Jewellery sat at the heart of ancient Egyptian society. Citizens of the empire wore a range of adornments including earrings, bracelets, armbands, collar pieces, rings and anklets. Lavish jewels were embedded into the statues of Pharaohs and gods, and it was custom to send the deceased into the afterlife with tailor-made jewellery that assure them a high status in the next world.
The ornament we most commonly associate with the citizens of this fabled land is the now-iconic wide collar necklace. This was a piece that stretched from the breast to the collarbone, and was typically made with rows of beads that were painstakingly crafted to resemble flowers or animals.
Amulets held a significant importance in ancient Egyptian society also. These are talismans or charms carved into the shapes of symbols, animals, humans and gods, which are believed to offer their wearers protection. The Egyptians believed it was particularly important to bury the dead with specific amulets. These were created to provide them with an element of protection that could help them weather the difficult journey into the afterlife.
Materials of jewellery making
This meant that jewellery was made from the most costly materials to ensure that wearers could prove their status at all times in this life and the next. The lower classes primarily wore pieces crafted from copper, as that was all they could afford, whilst the higher classes of ancient Egyptian society preferred to cast their showpieces from the most expensive metal in the ancient world, gold.
No piece was complete without a brilliant stone, and the richest Egyptians inlaid their jewellery with an array gems and semi-precious stones. The most commonly used were pearls and emeralds, which were native to the lands of Egypt, along with a stone that was made by mixing quartz with a colourant called “faience.” Other commonly used stones included obsidian, turquoise and lapis lazuli.
These amazing pieces were lost with the fall of ancient Egypt, however many of them have been recovered by modern archaeological expeditions. This means that you can buy various examples of this ancient jewellery in Artemission’s Egyptian section.
Artemission.com (Atticart Ltd.) is the leading antiquities gallery online. Starting the very first internet site dealing with authentic antiquities, Artemission specialise in ancient art from Egypt, the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, as well as Islamic Art and Ancient Coins.