11 photos of Lavish Pieces of Jewelry from Ancient Egypt

Sunday May 19, 2019               By: Sherine Radwan

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Contemporary piece inspired by jewelry from ancient Egypt designed by Doro Soucy 

The grandeur of the ancient Egyptian civilization is evident in the crafts and artifactsleft behind, including jewelry. Egyptians had access to precious metals and gem stones. The discovery of gold, in abundance, in the Nubian deserts revolutionized the Egyptian jewelry making. With their advanced tools, technology and skilled craftsmen, they were among the first who established the jewelry making industry in the ancient world. The precision, details and designs of their jewelry were state of the art, even by today’s standards. Their exquisite designs still inspire jewelry makers around the world.

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Gold collar from the treasure of the royal tombs Tanis, ca. 1070-712 B.C. – Cairo Museum

In ancient Egypt, women, men and children, from poor families to royalties wore the best colorful jewelry they could afford. The material from which jewelry was made differed according to their wealth and status. Nonetheless,necklaces, bracelets, neck collars, pendants, earrings, armbands, rings and amulets adorned their necks, wrists, ears, fingers and ankles.

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The Ancient Egyptian Pectoral of Prince Khaemweset, son of Rameses II. 18th Dynasty,  Louvre, France.

Wealthy Egyptians wore lavish jewelry made of gold, semi-precious stones and colored glass, which was rare when first discovered and very expensive. They loved pieces designed with scrolls, tigers, scarab beetles, winged birds, jackals, antelopes and snakes. The masses wore jewelry made of copper and colored beads, made of painted clay, stones, animal teeth and bones. Silver was a rarity in Egypt, and hardly used.

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Necklace with falcon pendant, Ancient Egypt, Located in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt

Egyptians wore jewelry not just for adornment, but also because they believed in their magical powers. Jewelry brought them good fortune, protected them from diseases and evil eyes, and warded off malevolent spirits, both during their life and in their afterlife, as they also wore their jewelry after death. Royals and nobles were buried with their jewelry, which allowed archeological excavations to discover these treasures; exhibited in museums in Egypt and around the world.

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Pin, Horus Falcon from the Tomb of Tutankhamun
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Gold Necklace of King Psusennes I, from his tomb in Tanis, Nile Delta, Northern Egypt.
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Earrings, from the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, discoverd in the Valley of the Kings,
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Necklace with Lunar Pectoral – from the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun
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Bracelet with image of Goddess Hathor – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

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Bracelet from the tomb of Queen Amanishakheto in Nubia – Egyptian Museum Berlin

 

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Pectoral and Necklace of Princess Sit-hathor-yunet
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Ring with Ducks. Ramesses IV, 153-1147 BC, Dynasty 20. Louvre, Paris

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36 comments

  1. Truest magnificent pieces I don’t see why more modern jewelers like Boucheron Tiffany etc don’t copy I love Ramses the firsts gold necklace thanks

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  2. Is the author of this article part of Radwan’s jewellery shop in Luxor? I bought a number of lovely contemporary pieces there. I did a Master’s thesis on Ancient Egyptian women’s headdresses so I fully appreciate the exquisite techniques. I investigated many that are in the Cairo museum (small room next to the Tut treasure room) but also some in other museum collections. An inlaid, cap headdress in the Met Museum in New York was really heavy, I think you would have had to be able to walk very carefully and elegantly to keep it in place on the head! @ Juliet, many of the famous jewellers did indeed interpret ancient Egyptian jewellery, but this was mainly in the art Deco era (1920’s) when the Oriental style was very much in fashion! I suspect that most of these reside in private collections but also that much was lost as a result of looting during WW2.

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  3. Exquisite pieces. For us so far is there is online buying an option esp for earring n scarub chains pls

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    • I have seen the Egyptian art and jeweler yin the Cairo Museum. They are all extraordinarily magnificent. Wish I owned some!

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  4. ¿Por qué no devuelven las joyas a los países de orígen?
    Sabemos que muchos objetos provienen de saqueos en épocas Napoleónicas, sabemos que se han hecho estudios, pero no entiendo por qué nunca han sido devueltos estos y otros objetos a Egipto y países de la Mesopotamia, que también han sido el blanco de robos de patrimonio cultural.
    Gracias

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  5. Thank you for beautiful article . As a child I lived 2 min walk from museum and used to visit with a sketch pad to draw beautiful artifices!!

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  6. I have been interested in all thing Egyptian since I was a child(over 80 yrs). It is so refreshing to see such beautiful replicas and originals as you display. Thank you Norita in Tucson Arizona

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  7. A really informative article. Thanks for the information. Jewelry was critically important even at the very start of Dynastic Egypt. Although there has been an abundance of stunning jewelry styles since the very first examples came into existence, there’s no doubt that Egyptian jewelry was entirely a work of art when the sheer craftsmanship of these pieces is considered. Thank you so much for the good quality of the photo.

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