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Egyptian Gemstone Jewellery

27 May 2007 16:00:00 | Author: Caryl


I recently received a request to create a replica of a bracelet found in the tomb of King Djer, who was the second Pharoah of Egypt's 1st dynasty.  The bracelets found in his tomb were originally created with Turquoise, Amethyst and Lapis Lazuli gemstones, along with pieces of gold.  They were beautifully designed, using alternating colours to combine patterns.

Although, I do have Turquoise, Amethyst and Lapis Lazuli gemstone pieces, I don't have the same sizes or shapes or even colours, of the gemstones used in these wonderful bracelets. Also, I am not yet working with gold but do have some wonderful silver pieces that I thought would work quite well, so I was quite excited about this challenge!

This also got me thinking about other jewellery from Ancient Egypt - what materials were used and why.  It turns out that some of the semi-precious gemstones used in jewellery making, were actually chosen for the magical properties of their colouring.  The colours generally used were green, red, blue, yellow and white.

Green symbolised new growth and fertility.  The most favoured green gemstone was Turquoise, although many Egyptian lapidaries also used Malachite, Green Jasper and Amazonite and, in later periods, Peridot and Beryl.  Red symbolised two extremes - life, as well as anger.  Favoured red gemstones were Red Jasper and Carnelian, however for some reason, Carnelian was later thought to be an ill-omened stone, meaning sadness.  Blue symbolised the heavens and water.  Lapis Lazuli, meaning joy or delight, was the favoured gemstone used.  Yellow symbolised "the eternal" or "indestructible".  The metal used to depict this was gold.  White symbolised purity and omnipotence, representing things that were sacred and simple.  Silver, known at the time as "White Gold", was used for this meaning.

This is just the beginning of what there is to know about how colours were used in the creation of gemstone jewellery in Ancient Egypt.  If there is anything you would like to add, please do.

In the meantime, here is the original bracelet and the bracelet I created.  I'd love to know what you think.

Egyptian 1st_Dynasty - Bracelet from the tomb of King Djer








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