Ancient Egyptian jewelers created designs using elements of nature that had magical or religious significance. The scarab beetle, the favored adornment of the time, represented the sun and creation. Lotus flowers represented resurrection. If the gems or minerals used were not themselves fashioned into a flower or fish, their color represented the elements. Lapis Lazuli, a deep blue color, symbolized the night sky, green Feldspar meant new growth and rebirth, Carnelian Agate, a red color, stood for energy and life. King Tut, in 1336 BC, wore bracelets made of gold inlaid with colored stones, including Lapis Lazuli. The Minoans favored using bees and honeycombs as common jewelry designs and flower buds were popular with the ancient Greeks. Golden serpents, peacocks and doves were common forms in Western Asia. The Middle Ages is known for lions, dogs, leopards and other dominant animals, while the Gothic periods romanticized naturalism with unicorns, stags and swans. By the 1620’s naturalistic jewelry took Paris by storm and with the development of painted enamels, fine detail in design was made possible during the 17th century. Europe drew inspiration from the study of botany and Tulips became a huge sensation leading to the term “Tulipomania” which made its way into lockets, watch cases and the backs of jewels. By the 1700’s this floral trend has blossomed into a full fledged style known as Rococo. In the 19th century, after centuries of isolation, Japan resumed contact with the west and introduced a whole new set of motifs like bamboo, chrysanthemums, dragons, cranes and fans. The jewelers of the 1800’s again ascribed symbolism to the elements they designed. Forget-me-nots represented true love, lilies of the valley meant the return of happiness. The serpent stood for eternity. The Art Deco movement, with it’s explosion of geometric designs, temporarily abandoned nature as an inspiration but by the 1930’s Art Deco had lost its momentum and jewelry motifs expanded to include nature once again.
Nature is as popular as ever among contemporary jewelry designers. Fine jewelry is sculpted with nature’s own bounty: priceless gems and precious metals.
A Gem for Every Reason and Season: The Birthstones
Stones are not only associated with the months of the year, Gem legends abound. They are referenced in the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita and numerous works of great literature. Rock crystal gives the wearer pure faith. Carnelian Agate symbolizes joy and peace. Ancient Greeks claimed Chalcedony bestowed physical strength. The Chinese believe jade brings prosperity. Lapis Lazuli offers light and wisdom. Moonstone creates harmony in relationships. Need a physical or mental boost… or just a good excuse to buy a treasure?…These are just a few of the thousands you can find. Treat yourself to a Natural Wonder.
Written by Wendy Adeler Hall
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