Aztec Jewelry

Aztec jewelry has fascinated everyone for centuries. It has an extremely rich history that is not known to all. In the ancient Aztec culture art was generally owned by the upper classes including jewelry. The jewelry was made from a variety of materials and often more than one type of material went into one piece. The materials were copper,gold,silver,clay,wood,shells,obsisian rock, and feathers. These materials were commonly used, but sometimes the designers would use precious stones were used to step up certain designs. Jade, opal, moonstone, and turquoise were used to name a few. Very ornate Aztec jewelry would have natural shapes though sometimes pieces would be crafted into the shape of birds and reptiles often with a religious significance. Men would often wear ornaments through their noses and also from a slit in their lower lip. One common form of Aztec jewelry was the ear plug and an example of these can be seen in the Aztec masks that both men and women wore. Only a small amount of the gold work from this era is left due to it being melted down during the tie e of the Spanish conquest. If you ever get the privilege of seeing ancient Aztec jewelry it is truly a treat.

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18th and 19th Century Jewelry

The jewelry of the 18th and 19th century are valued more for their beauty and historical associations than their monetary value. They consisted of precious and semiprecious stones such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz, and garnets. The two most consistent metals they used were gold and silver. Some of the most beautiful items of this period are what we would call today costume jewelry.  More than half of the remaining collection are rings and during this time there was a popular type of jewelry called mourning jewelry. This type of jewelry featured brooches and lockets containing a small amount of the hair of the deceased. This era is sometimes known as The Victorian Era named after Queen Victoria who reign ushered in a lot of modern style and technology. The queen’s jewelry and fashion influenced the world , as jewelry was extremely important to her. Her bridal jewelry consisted of an elaborate “Turkish “ diamond necklace with matching earrings. This era came to an end with her death on January 22, 1901 but the style of this period is still extremely popular and she is still one of the most admired and respected queens in history.

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Celtic Jewelry History

The Celtic culture reached Ireland at around 500 BC and the culture and the style of artwork that followed is called La Tene’ after an area of Switzerland where artifacts reflecting the La Tene’ style were first found. The style is defined by curves and spirals and human figures are rarely seen. The Celtic pieces of jewelry that are foundation of this style are:
Claddagh
Claddaghs are expression s of love and friendship. The origin is almost certainly from the Irish fishing village of Claddagh near Galway. Legend says that in the 16th century a love torn jeweler named Richard Joyce, from Galway was kidnapped by pirates. Thinking of the woman he was in love with, he designed a ring to express how he felt. It consisted of a heart to express his love, a crown for his loyalty, and hands for their friendship. He returned to her after 5 years and learned that she was not married, so he presented the ring to her and the Claddagh has been presented as a wedding ring ever since. Claddaghs are worn on the left hand facing inward if your heart is spoken for. If you are not in a relationship you wear the ring on the right hand facing outward.
Celtic cross
Celtic crosses are generally thought of in religious terms, but the Celtic cross is actually much older than Christianity. They are equal-armed crosses enclosed by a circle. The cross can symbolize the four corners of the earth or the four elements. The circle is a symbol of eternity and the path of the sun in the sky. When Christianity was introduced, it became common to see the cross atop a matching pedestal.
Pentacle
Pentacles consist of a five-point star enclosed within a circle. Pentacles can be interpreted as representing the five stages of life: birth, youth, adulthood, old age, and death. 
Celtic jewelry is still popular not only in Ireland today, but all over the world. It is one of the most requested styles currently.

 

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