Jewelry making. Faberge Egg Renaissance, 1894

Jewelry Art

Jewelry Art. Faberge Egg Renaissance, 1894
Jewelry making. Faberge Egg Renaissance, 1894

Jewelry is the ancient art of creating unique masterpieces from precious materials

Jewelry Art (from the Dutch juwelier – “jewel”) is a type of decorative and applied art in which the artist creates a product from precious materials, using various processing techniques. In the jewelry business, non-ferrous metals and their alloys, semi-precious and semi-precious stones are still used. A skilled jeweler should not only be able to use a special tool and thoroughly know the technical nuances of the profession. But also have extraordinary creative abilities to develop the original design of his works.

Jewelry making rightfully belongs to the category of the most prestigious creative professions, whose secrets are carefully kept by the craftsmen and carefully passed down from generation to generation. And wealthy people are ready to pay huge sums of money for unique masterpieces made by eminent jewelers.

Peculiarities of Jewelry Making Jewelry is a special art in which a master endowed with extraordinary talent is able to transform expensive materials into works that have not only monetary but also significant artistic value.

Decorative comb in Art Nouveau style, 1902. Jewelry Art
Decorative comb in Art Nouveau style, 1902

All kinds of jewelry can be divided into the following main groups: decorative elements of edged weapons and firearms; household items (book covers, vessels, dishes, boxes, watches, cases); cult items (crosses, reliquaries, frames for icons and sacred books, lamps, tabernacles, monstrous bearers); items of faleristics and medals (orders, medals, commemorative signs).

Jewelry (bracelets, brooches, beads, chains, combs, tiaras, cufflinks, medallions, rings, necklaces, pendants, necklaces, rings, earrings, tiaras).

Master jewelers use in their work a variety of techniques for artistic processing of metals and stones, including: forging; casting; minting; embossing; thread; engraving; black; enamel; inlay; etching; rolling; polishing; grinding; faceting; bending; soldering; bartack.

A unique feature of the jewelry business is the ability to reuse precious metals for the production of products by remelting scrap. This often becomes the reason for the ruthless destruction of unique masterpieces discovered by treasure seekers and stolen by robbers.

Jewelry Art. Carl Faberge. Agraf jewelry, early twentieth century
Jewelry making. Carl Faberge. Agraf jewelry, early twentieth century

The history of jewelry

The history of jewelry is more than 5 thousand years old, the earliest artistic gold items found on the territory of modern Egypt date back to this age. In those distant times, local craftsmen already knew how to make all kinds of jewelry from noble metal, including bracelets, breastplates, necklaces and pharaohs’ funeral masks.

In the next few millennia, jewelry from Egypt spread to neighboring regions – to the Middle East and Mesopotamia. Here, masters of Assyria, Sumer and Babylon achieved significant success in the artistic processing of precious metals and stones.

According to reliable historical sources, the earliest mentions of jewelry works of ancient Greek masters date back to the XIV century BC. It reached its peak in the classical period of the history of Hellas – in the 5th-4th centuries BC. e. The ancient Greeks were the first to learn how to create jewelry from emeralds. And pearls, and also achieved tremendous success in the manufacture of gems (cameos and intaglios) for medallions, signet rings and amulets.

Roman gold ring with a portrait of Emperor Commodus, 2nd century
Roman gold ring with a portrait of Emperor Commodus, 2nd century

The jewelers of Ancient Rome inherited the traditions of their Greek neighbors and supplemented them with their own unique developments. They began to widely use gold and precious stones not only for body jewelry, but also in the manufacture of furniture and other interior items. But after the fall of Rome under the onslaught of the barbarians at the end of the 5th century, many of the secrets of the masters were lost for a long time.

In the Byzantine Empire, after the adoption of Christianity, jewelry was monopolized by the church for many centuries. Unknown craftsmen made huge quantities of various objects of worship for temples, as well as frames for icons and sacred books. Similarly, events developed in the Middle Ages throughout Western Europe.

Only in the 13th century, at the dawn of the Renaissance, jewelry began to appear in the ceremonial attire of the highest European nobility. The ideas of humanism began to spread in society, and with them all types of art, including jewelry, developed rapidly. The wearing of buckles, rings, necklaces and belts adorned with precious stones became fashionable, and the profession of a jeweler again became widely demanded in society.

Jewelry making. Byzantine necklace, VI-VII centuries
Jewelry making. Byzantine necklace, VI-VII centuries

In the era of the Great Geographical Discoveries (late 14th – late 17th centuries), Europeans were finally able to get acquainted with samples of jewelry art from other regions of the Earth. Sailors and then adventurers began to bring products from local jewelers from Africa, India and China. At the same time, a huge number of unique masterpieces from the gold of the pre-Columbian civilizations of America were melted down by the Spanish conquistadors into coins and ingots.

In the following centuries, jewelry, along with other types of art, experienced periods of rise and fall, various styles replaced each other, new techniques and materials appeared. In the 19th century, mass industrial production of jewelry began, at the same time world famous jewelry companies were formed – French Cartier, American Tiffany & Co and Austrian Swarovski AG.

Ювелирное дело. Древнеегипетские пектораль и ожерелье, XIX век до н.э.
Ancient Egyptian pectoral and necklace, 19th century BC

The most famous jewelry masters

The names of the overwhelming majority of ancient jewelers are forever lost for posterity. Only a few of them are familiar to a narrow circle of specialists. A significant contribution to world culture was made by many creative personalities who worked with precious stones and metals. And yet, some of the most famous jewelry masters include: Karl Faberge, a Russian jeweler of German origin, the founder of the famous dynasty of Easter egg makers for the Romanov imperial family. It took a whole year for a team of craftsmen led by Carl Faberge to create one masterpiece. But each egg is of great artistic value even today.

Charles Lewis Tiffany is the founder of a huge multinational jewelry company named after him. Tiffany was not only a talented jeweler, but also a successful entrepreneur, and the value of the company he created is now over $ 16 billion.

Daniel Swarovski is an Austrian engineer who created a world-renowned gem-cutting company – the world market leader in cut crystal. Nowadays, Swarovski crystals are used by the best designers. Fashion designers when developing elite clothing collections.

Louis-François Cartier is a French jeweler, founder of Cartier. And a huge network of specialized stores around the world. His company gained worldwide fame later, thanks to the development by his grandson of watches decorated with precious stones.

Today, jewelry is still a popular art form. Unique masterpieces of ancient masters adorn the halls of the best museums in the world. Private collections of the richest people on our planet. And ordinary people, as far as possible, buy mass-produced jewelry for themselves and their loved ones.