If you think people wear a lot of jewellery today, you may be surprised to hear that people were even more into their bling in the past.
Good As Gold. Our ancestors were wearing necklaces and bracelets 40,000 years ago! Early jewellery was made from shells, bone, teeth and stone.
Around 7,000 years ago, the first metal jewellery was made from copper. Jewellery was made in workshops in China about 5,000 years ago. The favourite ancient Chinese bling material was jade, a beautiful green stone.
From around 5,000-4,000 years ago, rich men and women all over the Middle East loved to wear jewellery. Archaeological finds from the ancient city of Ur (in modern-day Iraq) include necklaces, bracelets and brooches made from gold, silver and semi-precious stones.
The ancient Egyptians liked their bling too, especially made from gold. Ancient workshops made beautiful, intricate jewellery of all kinds, using gold, silver, precious stones and glass beads. Cleopatra’s favourite gemstones were supposed to have been emeralds.
The people of the Indus Valley (the modern-day Indian subcontinent) were the first to mine diamonds around 300 BC.
We’re pretty restrained in our bling compared to most ancient people. Few understood the concept of ‘less is more’: if you could afford it, you’d struggle along under as much precious metal, beads and stones as you could carry.
Diamonds are forever: The first diamond miners, in the Indus Valley, prized diamonds above other jewels as we do today. But the ancient Chinese people didn’t think much of them: they used them to cut jade, but not to make jewellery.