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Published Thursday, April 28, 2016

How the Ancient Egyptians Made their Jewelry

Caption: Broad collar neckalce

Egyptian jewelry is by far, one of a kind and stunning. There is no denying that the jewelry was made in Egypt with gold as its main material and glorious colored stones. The history of Egyptian jewelry goes as far back as 3000 BC when they used stones and bones for jewelry. However, in the days of the Pharaohs, Egyptian jewelry gained status, power, and beauty by turning to gold, silver and bronze along with colored gems. This is when workshops were created, attached to temples for high authority to monitor over the workers. There were certain techniques used for their dynamic jewelry to be made.

The Egyptian jewelry makers...

Caption: earring with gold granulation

Used a technique called gold granulation to design necklaces, bracelets, rings, and various decorations that were worn by both men and women. They represented not only power and status, but they provided those who wore these lovely designs, protection against evil. A metal manipulation method was used to shape the gold by hammering it into the shape they wanted. They topped and chased precious metal or they chose to string little pieces that were made into beads to construct collars. Solidified glass was often used for beading.

The workers were able to shape stones that they chose of different colors into inlays to design various necklaces, head pieces, earrings, bracelets and armlets. Gold was found in riverbeds and were used often since they were soft and easy to work with. Silver and lapis lazuli were imported from surrounding countries including Afghanistan. Gem stones became popular for their colors, but were eventually switched for polychrome glass as they were easier to shape, were less expensive and was just as effective with beautiful colors. The open back gem was invented by the Egyptians so that light would be able to shine through the gem and make it look even more beautiful.

Colors represented...

Various things to the Egyptians. For example, turquoise represented joy and happiness, red represented power and protection from evil, and blue represented love and all-embracing. Gold was often used not only because it was easy to work with but because it represented the skin of the gods.

In order to carve stones that were soft, flint and emery fragments were used and for hard gems a rotary bow-driven tool was used. This allowed more flexibility in the type of jewelry that was created especially when they used soft stones or easily manipulated metals.

Egyptian jewelry makes up some of the coolest designs with:

  • Scarab beetles
  • Amulets carved in shape of the gods, humans, animals, and symbols
  • Religious symbols including the eye of Horus
  • Key of life symbol called the Ankh

Unlike their neighbors...

In southern Africa, the Egyptians did not pierce many parts of their body, however, they did focus on ear piercings. These were highly popular among Egyptians as they loved to wear fancy golden earrings for added decoration. Essentially, jewelry provided Egyptians the appearance of beauty and power as they wanted to make a good impression on the gods. These jewels were worn even in death as they felt these items would help protect them against any evil harming their bodies as they were uncertain of the afterlife.