Ancient Egyptians made no distinction between jewellry and amulets worn for protection. As a result, many examples of ancient Egyptian jewellry have survived to this day. English archaeologist Howard Carter in November 1922 after breaking into King Tutankhamen’s tomb started a fashion craze that is still immensely popular today. Carter and his team removed treasures from the tomb, left behind by ancient Egyptians to aide their god-king in his afterlife. These treasures once revealed to the world, began to influence architecture, artistic styles and most importantly, jewellry.
Jewellry modelled after the items of jewellry brought out of King Tut’s tomb are still popular today. Egyptians wore amulets both for decoration and function throughout life and into death. Jewellry was made with the choice of precious metal and stone chosen carefully, as each element had specific meanings to them.
Glass in Egyptian Jewellry
Glass surprisingly was a highly prized element used in Egyptian jewellry. Unlike precious and semi-precious stones, ancient Egyptians found working with glass very easy, while reproducing the colours for each gemstone was done through a well-known formula at the time. They made glass into beads, which were then set into channels for collars and pectorals.
The meaning of colour in Egyptian Jewellry
Each colour had a specific meaning in Egyptian religion, as did each gemstone and precious metal. For instance, green jasper stood for rain, while malachite was connected to health. Silver was frequently used in jewellry-making, while gold was used as often as possible as it was considered to be the skin of gods.
Use of Amulets in Egyptian Jewellry
Amulets were very important to Egyptians. They were incorporated in designs of jewellry, while Egyptians spent their whole life collecting jewellery so they could buried with it for protection in their afterlife. Common amulet shapes were the Ankh, symbolizing life; or the Scarab which stood for rebirth.