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Egyptian Jewelry

Egyptian jewelry was made as early as the Baduri and Naquda eras usually with threads of flax or cow hair. “The Ancient Egyptian, men and women, are great lovers of jewelry and adorned themselves with a profusion of trinkets” such as amulets and good luck charms, Egyptian jewelry made of precious and semiprecious stones, scarab beetle jewelry, Egyptian jewelry of the dead, a man’s ring used as a seal, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pectorals or vests. Egyptian jewelry was worn by men and women.  Many pieces of jewelry would be worn at the same time. 

Jewelry was used for decoration and to ward off bad spirits, to bring wealth and good luck.  Funeral jewelry was elaborate using such things as wreaths, crowns, hair bands and other jewelry such as rings, bracelets, vest plates, earrings and necklaces.  Favorite gems of the deceased were buried in the tomb.  Items included gold, turquoise, agate and silver. An Egyptian ring for him and a necklace for her were essential for everyday use.  Bracelets made of small beads of gold or with gemstones such as lapis and carnelian were popular and were soldered to pectoral sheets of gold or silver.

A vest or pectoral plate is a large piece of fancy gold, silver or copper plated with gold leaf.  Solidified glass, made into beads were often used because natural gemstones were hard to work with. The color blue depicted royalty making lapis a favorite gemstone.  Queen Cleopatra’s favorite gemstone was emerald which was found in several locations including the Red Sea.  Each color used in Egyptian jewelry had its own meaning.  Green meant fertility and success for new crops.  Red colored necklaces were worn by the deceased to satisfy the God Iris’ need for blood. Egyptian Revival jewelry such as necklaces, for example, became more common after the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Art Deco period.  Jewelry of that style boasted examples of serpents, pharaohs and sphinxes in simple flat design.

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