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The history of jewellery


The onset of jewellery manufacture seems to have been in Babylonia, the land of biblical floods. The excavated town of Ur gave many rich examples of the jewellers art dating at about 2700 B.C. It then spread outwards and it appears to have reached the Aegean world by about 2400 B.C., and from there all over the world.

In the early period there is little use of metals, with the earliest bits of jewellery found being cooper earrings. The first use of silver, in silver earrings, was noted about one hundred years later, and the first use of gold, one hundred years after that.

During the middle period there was increased commerce with Syria, Palestine and Egypt, with more use of gold and silver and the export of cooper. In the late Bronze Age Cyprus really flourished and there was a large flow to Cyprus of precious metals and semiprecious and precious stones.

The techniques of metalwork e.g. Filigree, granulation, niello and enameling, advanced and reached a high degree of sophistication, which experts admire even today. Examples of the work of this period can be seen in most of the big museums of the world and in The Cyprus Museum. Much was found in Engomi, near Salamis e.g. gold necklaces, rings, bracelets, gold bowls and gold earrings.

The earliest enamelling to be found was in Mycenae, about 1400 B.C., but this was not developed until two centuries later in Cyprus. Examples are the six gold rings found in Kouklia, decorated with a cloisonne like enamel pattern, 1200 B.C.