Friday, December 31, 2010

Gold Part 4

In ancient Egypt, around the time of Seti I (1320 B.C.),  the first gold treasure map  known was created. Today, in the Turin Museum is a papyrus and fragments known as the “Carte des mines d’or.” It pictures gold mines, miners’ quarters, road leading to the mines and gold-bearing mountains, and so on.
Where is the gold mine located? As it is well known there is always something a little vague about them, to throw you off the trail.
Modern thought is that it portrays the Wadi Fawakhir region in which the El Sid gold mine is located, but the matter is far from settled. 
The gold of the mountains, as the scribes of Ramses III called it, was found mainly in the Eastern Desert and Nubia. The Koptos gold for instance was mined in the Bekhen mountains. Seti gave these mines to a small temple he had built and dedicated to Amen, Re, Osiris and a number of other gods. The workers mining the gold, the “flesh of the gods”, for the temple were exempt from any other work. 
    In the Wadi Hammamat where gold-containing quartz was found, the underground quartz veins were mined by crushing the rock before the gold could be extracted. This required a great deal of manpower, provisioned only with difficulty in these deserted regions. Other pharaohs tried to follow Seti’s example by excavating wells in various location, with little success. Another attempt of Seti I resulted in a dry well 120 cubits deep which was abandoned. Only the perseverance of his son Ramses II brought success.  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gold Part 3

The “Gold of Troy” treasure hoard, excavated in Turkey and dating to the era 2450 -2600 B.C., show the wide range of intricate gold work from delicate jewelry to a gold gravy boat weighing a full troy pound. This was a time when gold was highly valued, but had not yet begun to be used as money itself. Rather, it was owned by the powerful and well-connected, made into objects of worship, or used to decorate sacred places. 
Heinrich Schliemann, a famous archeologist during the later half of the 19th century claimed to have found “Priam’s Treasure”.  During two excavations in the 1870’s at Hissarlik, a hill in the then Ottoman Empire near the town of Chanak in north western Anatolia, Schliemann along with his team uncovered a rich Trojan treasure that includes beautiful pieces gold, silver, jewels, ivories, and the like.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Treasury Features

25% off SALE F. Hardy Painted Earrings Pottery Indian Teepee

I have been fortunate to be featured in two Etsy treasuries today!  Check out the great savings and items to be had:

WINTER SALE SPECIAL Offer - Beautiful Blue Heart Glass Pendant

Gold Part 2

Gold is one of the easiest metals to work. It occurs naturally in a virtually pure and workable state, whereas most other metals tend to be found in ore-bodies that pose some difficulty in smelting. Gold’s early uses were ornamental evident by the many brilliant examples found at archeological digs around the globe. Gold has always been a substance of power. The earliest history of human interaction with gold is long lost, but its association with the gods, immortality, and with wealth itself are common themes in many cultures throughout the world. Early civilization equated gold with gods and rulers. Gold was sought in their name and dedicated to their glorification. Humans almost intuitively place a high value on gold, equating it with power, beauty, and the cultural elite. Since gold in its natural state is widely found all over the globe, we find the same ideology about gold throughout ancient and modern civilizations everywhere. Gold, beauty, and power have always gone together. Gold in ancient times was made into shrines and statues, plates, cups, vases and vessels of all kinds, and of course, jewelry for personal adornment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gold Part 1

Gold, who on this planet does not innately treasure this sought after material. Gold was first discovered in its natural state as shining, yellow nuggets, in streams all over the world. No doubt it was the first metal known to early hominids. As a result of being found all over the world, gold became a part of every human culture. Nearly every civilization that found gold was impressed with the shiny metal. Its brilliance, luster, and natural aesthetic beauty coupled with its great malleability and resistance to tarnish made it enjoyable for metal smiths to work and create with. Gold was the first metal widely known to and worked with in cultures around the globe. Historically, we consider the development of working with iron and copper as the greatest contributions to civilizations economic and cultural advancement, which is certainly true; but working with gold came first. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gemstone Classification

What makes a gemstone precious or semi-precious?  Mostly the classification between the two are for convience and in the past they were loosely based on the hardness of the stone although this system has many errors.  Now classification is more determined by fashion and rarity.  This is also inconsistent as rarity can also fluctuate with the finding of new mines or deposits.  Opal by definition of rarity could be labeled as precious even though by most it is considered semi-precious.  Other than the obvious diamond, rubies, emeralds and sapphires are considered precious.  Rubies are of the most rare and hold world wide acclaim.  Curiously though emeralds are priced about three times higher due to the naturally occurring chemical color-changing factors.  
Semi-precious stones are considered everything else that someone might deem to be pretty.  The precious stones seem to be a pretty elite group.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Origins of the Cameo

Cameos are precious or semi-precious gemstones on which a relief has been carved.  The cameo has no other function than being purely decorative, therefore, these beautiful pieces did not arrive on the jewelry scene until the Hellenistic period (about the third century BC).  The emergence of the cameo in Greek society followed the vast conquest of Alexander the Great which suggests to scholars the cameo, in part, was influenced by treasure sent back from various parts of the conquered Persian Empire.  At this time the Greeks started to follow the Oriental fashion of mounting precious stones in their jewelry.  Onyx and Sardonyx were already widely used and these stones were well suited for cameo treatment since both stones have stratified layers of dark and light.  The opportunity to create ornamentation in miniture would have well suited the Greek’s tastes in fashion, thereby, accounting for the blossoming of the cameo as an art form in the Hellenistic Age.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A History of Charm Bracelets, Part 5

The beautiful bracelets of Queen Victoria ignited the next big wave of charm wearing in the early 20th century. It was at this stage that charms had a dramatic change of purpose. They went from being practical tools of protection and power and symbols of status to become decorative fashion jewelry. Small lockets, glass beads and family crests that hung on bracelets and necklaces were all the rage.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A History of Charm Bracelets, Part 4

Let us fast forward through history to the dark days of the Middle Ages a time of knights, castles and many daring fights.  We find that charms and amulets were put to use by knights and kings extensively for protection and a wide assortment of other usage. They were most often used with incantations to wreak havoc on the occupants of enemy castles and protect warriors in battle. Charms were also worn on belts to represent family origin, political standing and profession.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A History of Charm Bracelets, Part 3

During the Roman Empire Christians would wear a charm to identify themselves to other Christians.  To gain entry into secret, forbidden worship activities they would pull the “ichthys” (fish) charm from underneath their garments thereby identifying as a fellow Christian.
A Jewish scholar of that same time period would write passages from Jewish law on tiny slips of parchment and carefully insert the slips into a small, golden amulet that was worn around his neck. This of act reverence and piety was meant to keep the law close to the heart.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A History of Charm Bracelets, Part 2

In Grecian times bracelets were popular with men and soldiers wore defensive bands of leather, often decorated with gold, silver and or gemstones, on their forearms. They were known as ‘Bracels,’ from the Latin Brachium, meaning, ‘arm.’ When women caught on that these Bracels would look great on them, Not to be out done by the men they started wearing smaller versions, called little Bracels…or ‘Bracel-ets.’ 

Friday, December 10, 2010

The History of Charm Bracelets, Part 1

The citizens of ancient Egypt, like people of many ancient civilizations, lived very short lives by today’s standard, from 30 to 40 years on average. With so little time on earth, they prepared for a prosperous life after death. Charm bracelets played a significant role in the preparation process. Charm bracelets were not only used as protective amulets and signs of status in society, they were also worn as type of ID tags to help the Gods guide the wearer and his/her possessions to the proper status level in the afterlife. Kind of an “if found, please return to” note from home.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Moonstone Folklore

Moonstone was used in jewelry by the Romans who believed that the stone was formed from the light of the moon. In India moonstone is considered a sacred stone. It is believed to bring good fortune, to enhance passion, and balance the yin and yang and is said to protect women and children. In early times, it was believed that one could see the future if the stone was held in the mouth during a full moon. According to legend, moonstone will ensure abundant crops
Moonstone is also thought to have healing properties.  Moonstone is said to promote healthy digestion, to protect against epilepsy, to calm emotions, cure headaches and nose bleeds, and protect against sun stroke.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hematite in the Ancient World

Hematite is one of the oldest of valued gemstones in the ancient world. The Egyptians used Hematite in the creation of magic amulets. Hematite was considered a curative mineral for madness. Babylonians wore Hematite amulets to gain favor with kings. The word for Hematite comes from the Greek word for blood.  Hematite was associated with the God of War, whom the Greeks considered evil. The Romans, however, revered war and used Hematite as a protection against battle. Powdered Hematite has been mixed with water and used as a blood substitute in some religious rituals. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Legend of Amethyst

The origin of amethyst is told to us by Greek myths. Dionysius, the god of intoxication, was angered one day by an insult from a mortal. He swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path.  To carry out his rash oath he created some fierce tigers. Along came Amethyst, an beautiful unsuspecting young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana saw what was about to happen and turned Amethyst into a stature of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Seeing the error of his anger Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gemstone we know today as Amethyst. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Egyptian Fish Amulets

Egyptian Fish Amulets or nekhau were worn for protection from drowning.  These amulets were given especially to children as a bulwark in their watery environment next to the Nile river. Common during the Middle Kingdom ( c. 1900-1800 BC) these nekhau were pendants made out of gold often with green felspar inlay.  It was thought that the amulet allowed the wearer to acquire fish abilities, which meant survival, if a child happen to fall into the water.

Friday, December 3, 2010

To Grandmother's House We Go!

Looking out the window this morning a song came into my head…Over the river and through the woods…okay my daughter was playing it on the piano.  Point is it got me thinking about some of the memories of going my grandma’s for holidays.  A time that was more simple and the holidays was about being together as a family.  I put together this treasury on that attempts to commemorate the spirit of those beloved past holidays.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Treasury Feature

One of my Celtic knot rings was just featured on an Etsy treasury today!  Take a look:

In the far off land Egypt, the often seemingly mythical civilization of the ancient Egyptians enchants us today in this modern world.  As it still holds true world wide, jewelry played an important part of the ancient Egyptian’s everyday life.  For the pharaoh and his courtiers jewelry was an essential part of their apparel.  The bright colors of the jewels augmented their fine white linen garments and heavy wigs worn by the nobility and the members of the ruling classes.  But for the Egyptians jewelry was not merely decorative it also held powerful meaning that went way beyond the physical realm.  Symbols such as  the ankh life sign, the djed pillar of stability, the protecting udjat eye, the scarab of rebirth and the images of gods gave all sorts of benefits to the wearer of the beautifully crafted pieces we see today in museums.

The materials and colors they used in their jewelry were not put together because they looked good together, every element of a piece had special meaning.  Gold was seen as a divine metal, regarded as the flesh of Ra, symbolizing eternity.  Lapis lazuli, which came from Afghanistan, represented the heavens and was thought to be superior to all other metals except gold and silver.  Green turquoise was associated with the green of the earth and was the symbol of youth and rebirth.