Jewelry: Adorning the Ages

Since time immemorial, jewels and metals were part of human culture. Our earliest ancestors used available materials like bone, feathers, fur and obsidian to create unique and identifying pieces. This trend continued and as time passed advancing technology enabled artisans to start molding and mastering metals and gems into works of art which influenced cultures and lead to modern jewelry styles. The pieces selected for this exhibition showcase both men and women's jewelry spanning the globe and ranging from 800 BCE through the late 20th Century. What is interesting are the similarities between the pieces despite their geographical and age differences. Gold is a favourite material for both men and women's pieces as are circular contours. The themes and shapes in the following pieces are also indicative of the ever repeating cycle of jewelry: many of the motifs seen in the earlier pieces can be traced through the years to modern items.  However, despite the similarities and differences seen in this exhibit, the purpose of wearing jewelry has remained constant: to allow people to express themselves, showcase their wealth, rank, and religious association or their affections toward someone. This enabled jewelry to become timeless and a telling aspect of humanity. 

This horseshoe shaped collar from Ireland is made out of gold and is embossed around the brim of the collar and attached circular discs with simplistic, decorative lines. This piece was chosen as an early representation of popular shapes and materials.
This jade set was intended to showcase wealth and societal hierarchy as it was created for a king. Similarities to the Shannongrove Gorget can be seen in the circular shapes and indents composing the main pieces of this set. These similarities are evidence that despite differences in geographical location and several hundred years, similar patterns and designs can still be seen.
This necklace with coin pendants was chosen because it shows a slight departure from the simplistic line and groove pattern as seen in the jade set and Shannongrove gorget. The similarities to the previous pieces can be seen in the pendants themselves as they are circular in shape and embossed with a round design as well as the materials used.
These earrings from Korea display the circular trend seen in the previous pieces in a different way. These pieces in their entirety are circular given that they are made by linking gold hoops together in a chain link and have circular pendant decorations the bottom pieces.
This piece was chosen for its clear similarity to a popular modern charm bracelet.This shows that despite a change of function (bracelet versus earring) styles can remain much the same. It was also chosen for the use of colour. Red and gold would be a popular style trend and can be seen in later pieces in this gallery.
These belt elements show how much jewlery design has shifted from the Shannongrove Gorget. Although the ever-present circular theme persists, this piece shows how jewlery artisans were now able to mold the gold into more intricate peaks and designs. This piece also displays how jewlery was worked into functional and arguably essential articles- the belt being a perfect example. This exemplifies how jewlery aside from being decorative was incorporated into basic pieces.
Departing from the functional belt elements, this ornamental piece showcases how cultural elements such as the monkey were incorporated into jewlery articles. This piece further highlights a favoritism among jewlery makers for the circular shape because although other shapes are displayed here, they are enclosed within a circle. Interestingly enough, the monkeys tails are also curled into rounded shapes.
An enklopion is defined loosely as "something worn around the neck". That said this piece was chosen specifically for its recognizable similarities to modern necklaces. The pendant with a stone encircled with smaller decorative elements is a popular style that can be seen in many of today's designs. This piece also marks a slight shift from yellow gold as the choice material for artisans, the use of stones however are similar to those seen in the 500-650 C. earring and the colour palate chosen is similar to a bangle found next in this exhibit.
This bangle again showcases how popular cultural symbols can be incorporated into jewlery. This piece also displays how important colour has become in the jewlery making process. The colours chosen in this piece also similarly resemble those seen in the Greek Enkolpion.
These earrings are the last item displayed in this gallery. They show the return to chunky, simplistic shapes and the grooved pattern that revisits the Shannongrove Gorget. Although these earrings are not gold, the colouring remains much the same and the emphasis of the red is reminiscent of the 500-650 C. earring.
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