Jewelry at the Met


This past week, my family and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The first exhibit was the Ancient Egyptian exhibit which was extremely well-done. The first thing to catch my eye was the beautiful jewelry and I thought I'd share with whoever ends up reading this. 

It's incredible how much jewelry meant and symbolized during this time in history. In their time, jewelry represented status and people were defined by what they wore on their wrists, feet, ankles, neck, hair, etc. It's amazing to think about how jewelry is such a minimal part of our everyday lives, even if you're into it like me, and it doesn't symbolize much. In today's society, people may wear necklaces or bracelets that they got as a gift or bought for themselves because they liked the way it looked, the color, or simply because it's the trend. I think one of the only items that truly symbolizes status today, in the sense of jewelry, is an engagement/wedding ring(s). The bigger the "rock" on your finger is, the more money your husband has/saved up/etc. It means much more than marriage by the looks of it. These necklaces are historical art pieces that are priceless but somehow overlooked by many of the museum go-ers.

Just take a moment to look at the detail and beauty of these pieces as artwork and not jewelry. The hinged bracelets or armlets pictured above have faded a bit, but the symbolism is still there. On the inner surface of these cuffs is an inscription of the cartouches and epithets of Thutmose III that were worn on the arms of the woman's skin in order to keep the king's name close to them. Also, the finger rings above are inscribed with the king's name and were presumably gifts from the pharaoh to these women. These "Royal Wives" were, therefore, singled out from many other foreign females in Egypt at this time. Lastly, the broad collars were the most frequently worn by the royalty and elite in ancient Egypt as they were, too, gifts from Thutmose III. The one with visible hieroglyphs is said to mean "beautiful". This is a great example to show how much meaning these accesories had the women (and men) that wore them. 

Further on in the museum as we moved away from ancient Egypt and more into royalty in more western countries. I'm not exactly sure what country these are from, however, they are stunning. The above necklace are made by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany and Company. The top, circa 1910, is made of moonstones, Montana sapphires, and platinum. The bottom, circa 1915, is made of opals, garnets, tourmalines, carnelians, and amber. The thing I love about the time we live in now is that everything old is new again. These pieces look like they'd be worn in today's society. I know, I would definitely would. Apparently, the pendant is made to be worn as an elaborate necklace, as seen above, or into more discrete items such as a bracelet, or an independent brooch.