Amazing Jewelry Facts
Humans have always loved decorating themselves. And the more scientists find out about our distant ancestors, the more interested in art and body decoration they seem to have been. Here are some fascinating facts about jewellery from around the world, just for fun!
- What is the oldest known jewellery ever found ? 100,000 year old beads made from Nassarius shells.
- The word jewellery comes from jewel, from the old French jouel, which in turn comes from the latin jocale, which means ‘plaything’.
- The Americans call it jewelry, everyone else calls it jewellery.
In many cultures jewellery is supposed to ward off evil, for example the famous Egyptian ankh.
- Through history live insect jewellery has been popular. The Egyptians may have been the first to do so, wearing scarab beetles into battle. But the Mexican Maquech Beetle and Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach have also been used in jewellery. In Britain the Victorians loved it, often sporting huge, vivid live beetles attached to their clothing by tiny, fine gold chains.
- 24 carat gold is 99.9% pure, and most US and European jewellers think it’s too soft for jewellery. But 24 carat gold is the norm across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
- Platinum alloys range from 900 (90% pure) to 950 (95% pure).
- Venetian glass masters on the island of Murano developed crystalline glass, enamelled glass, glass including gold threads and a load more creative and revolutionary ways to make stunning glass beads. Venetian glass necklaces were sought after as early as the 1200s and are still made today.
- Diamonds were first mined in India.
The British crown jewels include the massive Cullinan Diamond, a chunk of the biggest ever gem-quality rough diamond ever found. It was discovered in 1905 and weighed 3,106.75 carats, which translates to 621.35g in weight. Blimey, that’s what we call bling!
- Engagement rings date back to 1477, first popularised by the marriage of Maximilian the 1st to Mary of Burgundy.
- Amber, an organic gem, is made of fossilised tree resin. It must be at least a million years old to qualify as amber, but there are plenty of composite and reconstituted resin alternatives around, cheap as chips and NOT the real thing. If the price is too good to be true, it isn’t amber.
- Amber can be as old as 120 million years.
- Amethyst is just a version of quartz, but its beautiful purple colour makes it a popular semi-precious gem for jewellery. Rose quartz, smoky quartz and citrine are also popular.
- Emeralds were mined by the Egyptians as early as 3500 BC.