Kellie Harford: Ancient Egyptian Jewels


In Ancient Egypt, jewelry was as important then as it is today.  It was a status symbol to show your wealth. Both men and women wore jewelry to show their prominence in their city. If you did not wear any you were thought to be the lowest of low. Also the stone or metal that was used said a lot as well. The more gold and precious stones you wore, the wealthier you were perceived to be. The size of the stone during this time mattered as well. The gold was a precious metal that was refined by fire and made into beautiful pieces such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, collars and armbands. These pieces would also include precious stones such as pearls, emeralds and rubies. These were some of the most valued stones at the time. Kings and queens and many of the prominent politicians would travel through the city with their servants wearing large amounts of jewelry draped around their necks, wrists and fingers so the people would see their wealth and show them due respect. If someone did not gain the respected they wanted they went and looked for more jewels at there home. They wanted to go about town so that everyone knew where they stood. Even upon their death, they would be buried with their jewelry on as to show others in the afterlife their wealth and position. They did not want to be buried without them because they thought that with out them they would not continue to hold their status when they continued on to the afterlife. Many of these items have been found during the excavation of the tombs of kings and queens who were buried in these areas where ancient cities once were.  By uncovering these precious objects, we can learn a great deal about the time in which the owners lived and prospered with in Ancient Egypt. We have learned about how the stones have aged as well. Some of the stones were still completely intact and some were not. Specific designs were made for certain periods of time, just as we do today.  This way we can determine approximately when the piece was created and possibly who it might have belonged to. Just as artists create quality pieces today for specific people or events, artists of Ancient Egypt created beautiful works of art from their own designs. These craftsmen were known as Master Craftsmen in their art. These were the people that everyone went to in town for their designs. Whether it was creating a golden necklace with precious stones, or hand carving a bracelet from alabaster, their designs were unique to each person. The Master Craftsmen all had different things that they were known for. They built and designed things different from each other. The better their designs and jewelry, the better they were treated in the community. They way that someone was treated during this time said a lot about their job and their economic status in the town.

Alexander, Rachel. "Facts About Ancient Egyptian Jewelry." Synonyms. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <http: / / /ancient-egyptian-jewelry-9746.html>.

This is the Necklace with Fly Pendant. It currently resides in the Brooklyn Museum in New York. The credit for the piece was given to the Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund. The rights statement was given by the Creative Commons –BY. It is from ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E. The time period in which this piece was created was a very memorable period. It is from the XVII Dynasty during which the New Kingdom Period took place. It was collected in Egypt. This specific necklace is made from gold and iapis lazuli. This design of the necklace has significance to the piece. It was created with tiny beads of shell, bones medals and other objects. The beads that was placed on the necklace were thought to mean different things. Reproducing flowers and fruits were thought to bring fertility. This type of necklace was also used in the military. The officers gave a necklace with a fly on it to the soldiers to acknowledge them in battle. The dimensions of this piece are 9 11/16 inches. The Fly pendant is 11/16 by 5/8 inches. Most of these necklaces were all the same in length but there were a few that were either longer or shorter. The reason for this is because some of the men and women were larger or smaller. This is something that was passed down in the families. It showed different meaning to everyone depending on the stones and materials that were used to create this piece. Some times there were even images of gods that hung from the necklace. Some of the smallest beads had the most meaning. There are many different looks to this piece. There are not two pieces of work that look the same. Some had more beading to enhance what they believed was true about the specific items. "Necklace with Fly Pendant." Brooklyn Museum. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <>.
This is the Signet Ring. It currently resides in the Brooklyn Museum in New York. The credit line goes to Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund. The rights statement came from Creative Commons-BY. This ring is from ca. 664-404 B.C.E. The place that it was believed to have been found was Giza, Egypt. This city is the third largest city in Egypt. This specific piece is made out of solid gold weighing only 0.5 pounds. It is only about 13/16 inches. The bezel’s width is 11/16 by the length of 15/16 inches. The ring itself was not very large. It was raised and had a oval shape to it. There is an inscription on the particular ring and it shows that this ring belonged to a man named Neferibre. Neferibre was thought to be a priest in the cults of Isis. This ring was found many years after this man died. For this time period this was a ring that weighed a good amount and was very heavy to them. This ring is very important and is from King Khufu of the IV Dynasty. This was thought to have lasted from the XXVI Dynasty to the XXVII Dynasty. He was known later on to the Greeks as Cheops. This is the actual ring that belonged to the builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza who was once famous. This is a ring that was made out of pure gold and was more than twenty- one pure karats. Having something that is this pure is hard to find. The inscription on the rings on the top meant something very meaningful at that time. This is an important piece in the Brooklyn Museum because of the time period in which this is from. It was figured to from what was considered to be the late period. "Signet Ring." Brooklyn Museum. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <>.
This is the Gold Beads in the Shape of Cowrie Shells. It was found in Egypt but it is from the Greek culture. It is not known who the author was ever found for this particular piece. It is thought to be from ca. 220-100 B.C. This piece is currently not on view but it resides at the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California. Not every piece that is found is able to be on display at all times. Many of the museums have to rotate pieces and even sometimes the whole exhibit changes. When it is time for the exhibits to change it is most likely that if this piece is still in good enough condition it will be placed out for people to observe. This particular piece is made out of pure gold. It has twelve pure gold hollow cowrie- shaped beads on it. It is held together different than most pieces this is held together by a twisted gold wire. There is not a clasp that is found on this piece to close it so it could be warn. There may have been a clasp on it at one time but it currently does not have one on it. It is 6 11/16 by 9/16 by 9/16 inches. The hollow beads are connected by two joined pieces of sheet gold. These shells are known to come from the Indian Ocean. The shells themselves would have been very popular in Hellenistic, Egypt. This is most likely where the necklace was made. Many people in the Greek culture wore necklaces like this at one point. This was something that showed your wealth due to the face that it was made out of pure gold. Egypt though was known for jewelry, stones, and metals seeing that most of the jewelry at the time was created there. "Gold Beads in the Shape of Cowrie Shells." The J. Paul Getty Museum. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <>.
This is known as the Diadem of semi-precious stones and gold. This piece is a very colorful piece unlike the others. It is made from turquoise, garnet, malachite, and gold. The small red garnet stone was very uncommon because of their small size. If a woman was found to be wearing this piece of jewelry she was marked as very wealthy. Only the woman that were wealthy wore the precious stones. It shows their status in the community and shows where your family financially stands. This specific stone was very expensive to buy during this time. It is from 3300 BC. The time period of Naqada II. It currently resides in the British Museum where it is still there for viewing. The trustees of the British Museum are in charge of each piece that enters the museum. The artist of the particular piece is unknown. This piece was donated to the British Museum by the Egypt Exploration Society. This stone was excavated from Egypt. Its physical dimensions are the height is 31.50 centimeters by the width of 3.00 centimeters by the depth of 0.60 centimeters, by the weight of 0.009 kilograms. This particular piece was actually found on the head od a woman who was buried in a grave at Abydos. It is thought that knowing that only the wealthy had these type of jewels that she was a wealthy woman. At the time in which this woman probably passed away it was known to be buried with your money and your jewels. After all this time these jewels are still in amazing condition. It looks to be a very different piece by the colors and the stones that were used. Also it was different because of the way that this particular necklace closed. This is considered to be a unique design. "Diadem of Semi-precious Stones and Gold." The British Museum. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <>.
This is the Broad Collar. It currently resides in the Brooklyn Museum in New York. This piece of jewelry is actually currently on display in the Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity at the museum. The credit line is from Charles Edwin Walbour Fund. The rights statement was given by the Creative Commons-BY. This is made from molded tubular and teardrop beads called Fainence. This was something that was very popular in this era. It was worn by many different people and types of people. This is thought to be possibly from three different time periods though of ca. 1336-1327 B.C.E., ca. 1327-1323 B.C.E. or ca. 1323-1295 B.C.E. It was located in Thebes, Egypt. It is thought to to be from the late XVIII Dynasty, which is also know at the time to be the New Kingdom period. The collars may have been derived from a floral design. This particular design was made with six rows of cylindrical beads that were separated by a single stand of smaller circular beads. The dimensions of this certain piece are 14 7/16 inches by 4 7/16 inches. The condition is perfect with the exception of one large bead in the center which is broken at the upper end. For as old as the piece of jewelry is it, it is in remarkable condition. In the early kingdom it was know for the gods, kings, and mortals to wear these type of bands. The collar is call a weaskh which literally mean “the broad one”. This was a piece of jewelry that did not differ in size. The precise details in the way that it was created did not allow for it to be different. This is a piece of jewelry that has truly be able to stand the test of time. It showed how well these beads held up and how well it was made. "Broad Collar." Brooklyn Museum. Web. 18 Apr. 2016. <>.
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