The History of Jewelry as Gifts

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February 18, 2018
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The History of Jewelry as Gifts

Jewlry Infinity bracelet Mom and daughter.

Infinity name bracelet and a name choker with a curb chain.

Let’s talk about jewelry.  Those shiny, glittery pieces of bling have captivated our imaginations since the beginning of time. When you look at the history of jewelry as gifts, its motivations go from intimate romance to impressing a colleague or ally.

Offering gifts of jewelry is not a recent custom. We all know the story of Jesus and the three wise men. According to historical records, baby Jesus received gold jewelry, among other expensive presents.

In many ancient cultures, jewelry was worn and owned by the rich and powerful people in society. In others, they were simply used as ornaments for decoration. Archaeologists have excavated a 25,000-year-old necklace in a cave in Monaco. Some historians argue that the fishbone necklace may have been a present for a loved one.

In pre-historic times, jewelry was often made of bones and shells. The oldest found in Eastern Asia was a 37,000-year-old crafted shell. These were durable items that were usually worn by hunters and other respectable members of society.

Over time, metalworking skills improved and people began making jewelry from more sophisticated materials. The advanced technology made jewelry more decorative, and this is probably what prompted people to use these items as gifts.

The items came to be associated with fashion and class, and as such, were highly desirable.

In 18th century Russia, a high-ranking man known as Grigory Orlov is said to have given his wife, Empress Catherine the Great. a 198-karat diamond. This gift was intended to rekindle their romantic relationship after the empress had abandoned him.

Around the same period, many European monarchies engaged in a fashion contest:  rings, bracelets, and necklaces have long been fashionable and popular items. Earrings, nose rings, and bangles too have been not only popular but fashionable throughout the centuries.

King Louis XIV of France is known to have made significant efforts to decorate his court with flashy items. He is said to have imported the famous Hope Diamond from India with intentions of offering it as a wedding gift to his grandson’s wife, Marie Antoinette.

Today we often see many items given as gifts as something intimate.  Diamond earrings or a delicate necklace is given to a romantic partner more than a casual friend or workmate.

Regardless of intent, however, there is a piece of jewelry that can be given for almost any occasion — to a loved one, romantic partner, friend, and/or family.

The right gift is there; all you need do is use your imagination.

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Read more about the history of Jewelry here.


1 Comment

  1. Robert Leeds says:

    Nice article about jewelry history. I learned a lot from it.

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