by Maegan Crandall
Men didn't just start sporting gold chains in the 1970s; men's fine jewelry has an extensive and interesting history. Ancient cultures all around the world chose their favorite adornments, and men's jewelry was often used to signify strength, wealth and respect. Men's fine jewelry still carries some of the same traditions today as early men's jewelry, though an extensive variety of jewelry is available for men today. Our facts about the history of men's fine jewelry can help you find your personal jewelry style.
Early jewelry: The earliest evidence of jewelry comes to us from Africa, where adornments made of shells have been found. Early humans in Europe also prized jewelry; body ornaments made of stone, teeth and bones have been discovered. These pieces of jewelry were likely worn by both men and women, and certainly some pieces of jewelry had cultural or tribal significance. Ancient Egyptians were the first to craft fine jewelry out of gold. The Egyptians wore gold jewelry to showcase their wealth, and gold possessions always went with the owner to the grave.
Artistic jewelry: The Egyptians paved the way for creative fine jewelry all around the world. The Greeks enjoyed making jewelry out of gold and gemstones, although it was customary in ancient Greece to wear fine jewelry only on special occasions. The Romans had an incredibly varied and ever-changing approach to jewelry, yet most Roman men wore only rings. In Europe during the Middle Ages, embellished weapons and signet rings were common men's jewelry pieces. Throughout the European Renaissance, however, men began wearing more jewelry. Napoleon Bonaparte even brought the cameo back in fashion with a crown decorated with the classic silhouette pieces made of ivory and gemstones.
American jewelry: The Aztecs and the Mayans started the tradition of American gold jewelry, as gold was abundant in South and Central America. The Aztecs wore gold jewelry to project wealth and show their rank within the society. This tradition carried over into modern American culture; gold and gemstone jewelry is still sign of status in most of the Western world.
Modern jewelry: It wasn't until the 1940s that men and women started wearing jewelry regularly in the United States. Men began wearing luxury watches during the '40s and '50s, and wedding jewelry started evolving into the ornate pieces we are familiar with today. The revolutionary decades from the 1960s to the 1990s gave us many new jewelry trends, and men can choose from a wide range of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and body jewelry.