The ancient Egyptians were the first to experiment with gold in 3000 BC. Gold was rare, did not tarnish and could easily be made into various forms. They made metalizing jewelry, handcrafted unique jewelry, handmade wood jewelry, custom handcrafted jewelry, handcrafted beaded jewelry for applications such as collars, bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, head ornaments and pectoral ornaments of gold. When King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in 1922, it contained many gold artifacts including the King’s gold funeral mask.
History shows the Greeks were the first to incorporate gems in jewelry as early as 1400 BC. The Greeks were leaders in producing beads by joining two flat pieces of gold and filling them with sand.
In the Tuscany region, the Italians experimented with gold as early as the eighth century BC. In addition to coins, one of their innovations was making pendants that were hollow and could be filled with perfume. They also incorporated gems in their works.
As a natural progression, nobility did not want common folk who were able to indulge in real jewelry to compete with them, and faux jewelry came into existence. Real gemstones and pearls originated in the east and were primarily purchased by the Italians. The Venetians and people from Murano made imitation gems and pearls from glass. These faux items were distributed throughout the world.
In the 1700’s, Paris became the main producer of fake pearls. Most fake jewelry originated in Paris after 1734 due to the works of Georges Strass who discovered a compound of glass, lead oxide and potash. After 1760, the honor proceeded to England where steel was used for gem settings. Cameos were also produced by using glass and Wedgwood porcelain paste.
When Napoleon became Emperor of France in 1804, the revival of ostentatious display of jewels and elevated fashion sense evolved. Thus began the era of neo-classical style. Napoleon’s family had all of the royal family gems reset in this design. He also created the popularity of cameos after he had his coronation crown set with them.
In 1837 when Queen Victoria came to the throne, jewelry was most romantic. Until that time, most jewelry was made in Europe but began to be made in America and Australia. This was also the era when Tiffany began to manufacturer jewelry in American and opened shops in important European cities.