Are you aware that jewels were not always seen as a symbol of romantism as it is today?
A bit of Jewelry History
Hanging on ours ears, enhancing our neck and wrists and even sometimes our ankles… jewels are the key of an elegant and refine outfit. Nowadays jewelry is recognized as a luxurious profession blending materials, colors, and arts. As Lettres d’Or’s works, jewels have a romantic and flirting feeling for sure. However, we are not sure it was the same in the past… Let’s see through the past the meaning of wearing jewels!
During Prehistoric time, jewels were made with polish bones of hunted animals, shells or rocks. Used mostly for religious rituals as a sign of communication with God, necklaces were own by the tribute chiefs. Indeed, it indicated your social position, far or close from the head of the community, and your belonging to it. Some of the jewels were also part of sexual reproduction rituals.
The dominant civilization during this time was the Egyptian. Egyptian people were ruled by traditions and religious rituals, and their jewels represented a link to their Gods. We found painting of Egyptian gods wearing all kinds of jewels, so we suppose Egyptian people wore them the same way. The discovery of gold and other materials played a great role in creation of bracelet, necklaces, rings and even belts. Some research let appeared that jewels were made mostly with gold and were worn by all social position people, men or women. The most powerful ones added gems and pearls and were buried with it.
Louis XIV Diamonds
Royals’ jewelry reached its culminant point during French King Louis XIV reign. Crazy about diamonds, He asked for customizable necklaces with shining stones. Theses diamonds came from European neighbors, creating a trade around it. In the Court, most powerful nobility imitated the King. Jewelry designers of this time had to be creative. This way, the cutting stones method improved, and jewels were made with all precious materials: silver, gold, diamonds, and gems. Under Royal Court, for the first time of history, jewels were an artistic object and used for aesthetic purposes and proof of wealth.
Industrial Revolution not only impacted big industries as railway or automobile. It also changed artistic industries like jewelry. Today’s biggest jewelry companies such as Cartier or Tiffany&Co were born in the 19th century. The use of new and cheapest materials like iron, plastics, woods but also strass and false stones combined with new method of production with machines, enabled jeweler to produce their creations in big quantity.
At the same time, emancipation of women had started. Their social status began to change and they started to be seen as active with purchasing power. These elements introduced the democratization of jewelry to middle-class women and the creation of the “New Art” artistic movement. Which also helped along the development of new jewelry elements like brooches and combs.
From prehistory to industrial revolution, Jewelry has always been the result of creative minds, with different purposes. First seen as a way of communication, then as a spiritual artefact or as a sign of wealth, it has crossed the ages until becoming an artistic and fashion product we all enjoy wearing. A must-have to our daily or occasional outfits and an always-happy-to-receive gift!
Creativity remains the starting point for Lettres d’Or as all our jewels are imagined and designed by our founder, and then entirely handmade in Atelier.