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Egyptian Jewelry

Egypt was not only one of the first great civilizations, it was also one of most enduring.  For 3,000 years pharaohs and queens reigned over a sun-drenched land blessed by the water of the Nile.  The annual flooding of the great river renewed the richness of the land every year, just as the movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars marked the cycles of time over an eternal kingdom.  We can see these natural phenomena carry over into the ideas of rebirth and renewal in Ancient Egyptian faith.  The Greek historian and geographer, Herodotus – who in 500 B.C. traveled to an Egypt that was already very advanced and very old – wrote that the Egyptians were the most spiritual people in the world.  One of the ways Egyptians expressed that spirituality was through jewelry.  

Everyone, rich or poor, wore jewelry in Ancient Egypt.  The wealthy wore items made from gold, silver, and precious stones like rubies, sapphires, onyx, and lapis lazuli, while humbler folk would wear crafted pieces of painted clay, bone, or wood.  Jewelers operated under strict rules and were skilled not only in the techniques of their craft but in ensuring their works of art had the right spiritual properties.  Like the many symbols and hieroglyphs on their monuments and temples, jewelry was meant to convey meaning.  The Egyptians placed great importance on amulets and wore them around their necks, wrists, or ankles for many different purposes.  They also prepared their loved ones for the afterlife by adorning them with special amulets and the essential "heart scarab" winged beetle to keep their soul intact as it traveled into the beyond.  Jewelry was not just to attract human attention, it was meant to attract divine attention, and people would wear it to show devotion, for protection from evil and illness, to ward off bad luck and bring good fortune. 

The Ancient Egyptians had a rich and varied pantheon of gods and goddesses as well as many symbols to convey spiritual truths.  These were worked into their jewelry and other art.  The Ankh represents life and immortality as well as the love-union of Isis and Osiris.  The Eye of Horus represents the Moon and royal power and was used for protection, healing, and the measuring of medicines; while the Eye of Ra represents the Sun.  The Horus Falcon is also the symbol of the king of gods and the sky god, Horus, who was the son of the Great Mother, Isis.  The Tiet, or Knot of Isis, represents the feminine creative force.  The jackal is the symbol of Anubis, the protector of the dead and so appears in many pyramids.  Pyramids were not merely buildings, but rebirth "machines" designed to speed the soul of the Pharaoh on his journey, while the mummy itself was in careful imitation of the original mummy, Osiris.  Ouroborus, the great serpent, represents the course of the cosmos and lent its shape to the symbol for infinity in mathematics.  The Scarab (beetle) represents rebirth and immortality.  The Lotus Flower represents the sun and rebirth as well because these flowers opened in the morning and closed at night.  Lotus were offered as gifts to the gods and were so important their shapes were even incorporated into Egyptian architecture. All these symbols would have been immediately understood and deeply valued by great queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra, and great pharaohs like Ramses, Amenhotep, and Tutankhamun.

At Jewelry of Egypt, it is our privilege to offer you the highest quality necklaces, rings, bracelets, and other adornments that carry on the traditions of one of earth’s oldest and deepest cultures.  We invite you to browse our selections, to learn more about their meaning, and to reach out if you have any questions.  Thank you for stopping by as you go about your eternal journey.