Greek Jewelry

Greek Jewelry

Irrespective of different theories and differences in the hypothesis put forth by various schools of thoughts, the history of human civilization will always have the name of Greek civilization featured prominently. All experts unanimously acknowledge the contribution of ancient Greeks to the evolution of science, literature, mathematics, architecture, philosophy, art, religion, etc. for the progress of human race. The architectural remains of their monuments and cities, the available historical relics, the written documents of the time, etc. give ample insights about the life in those times. Greek society in that historic era of early civilizations had taken significant strides of development. The affluence and the order of Greek society are also reflected in the use of jewelry by men and women in those days. The growth of craftsmanship skills to make attractive jewelry is conceivable only in societies which have achieved reasonably well in the scale of development index and social order. In the erstwhile Greek society, jewelry items like pendants, rings, necklaces, etc. were highly popular. Earrings, arm bands, thigh bands, pins, tiaras, bracelets, etc. were also used by the noble class. Though also worn by the ruling noble men, these were patronized mainly by the women from higher echelons of the society. The use of jewelry items was symbols of power, opulence, and social status. The use of jewelry to ward off evil and for the celebration of gods was also there.

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Since gold was not available locally, silver and alloys of silver with zinc, lead, bronze, etc. were chiefly used in jewelry making. The use of semi-precious stones like amethyst, garnets, sardonyx, rock crystals, etc. and precious ones like pearls and emeralds, etc. is also evident in the jewelry pieces of the period. Gold was rare and precious in Greece as it was imported from Asia. In the period following the rise of Alexander the Great, the availability of Gold and precious stones became easier, and its use by artisans was common. Over the subsequent periods, use of molds and gold leaf on jewelry designing made its popularity considerably affordable and easier to large sections of the then Greek society, which was fairly well off. The metalworkers made exquisite designs and introduced aesthetic variations in their craft. Use of motifs and themes of some Greek Gods in the jewelry also is ascribed to invite their curative and benevolent powers. The depiction of Goddess Aphrodite, her son Eros, Zeus, Nike were popular in the jewelry designs of the period and can be even seen today in the museums. Most of the family jewelry items were passed on to the generations. The custom of putting some ornaments (mostly the ones used in the lifetime) in the tombs of the deceased noblemen was also prevalent. Most of the relics available for display in the museums today were sourced from the excavations of tombs or were found deeply buried in the earth in strong chests (presumably for safety). The intricate designs and fine workmanship of these antique jewelry pieces are inspirational for modern jewelers as well.