We can never be entirely sure what sentient man’s first thoughts on his immediate environment may have been 200,000 years ago, but one thing we probably can reliably guess… It must have been a pretty scary place. Beset on all sides by severe and numerous mortal hazards, it must have occurred to early man, that he could use all the help he could get, and some more!
The first protective amulets and talismans were perhaps no more than a few small animal bones, a lock of hair, an arrow head or a shiny pebble found in a mountain stream, and held perhaps in a simple draw-skin pouch suspended from the neck, wrist or waist, to ward of evil spirits, animal attacks, keep sickness at bay, and to generally bring good luck. Charged with a significance of which he may have been only partly aware, they have helped him to overcome his fears and pains in the face of events that surpassed his understanding.
Even more modern and rational explanations of what many people may now consider to be superstition, or popular belief cannot now take away from the poetry and romance of traditions which are many thousands of years old. As the use of gemstones and precious metals became more widespread for these purposes, the possession of these items became associated with both wealth and power.
The first gemstones used in early jewellery, include amethyst, rock crystal, amber, garnet, jade, jasper, coral, lapis lazuli, pearl, serpentine, emerald and turquoise. These stones were reserved for the most part, for use by the wealthy, and served as status symbols. This wealth was then passed on in the form of wedding dowries to create links of kinship, and further the bonds of power. The diamond engagement ring and gold wedding bands are today a lingering symbol of this ancient transaction.
There is a close relationship between the amulets of ancient man and the jewellery of modern times. With an increasing understanding of the monetary value of gemstones and jewellery, as well as the collective subconsciousness of their ancient use, and, even though in the modern times, jewellery is acquired increasingly for pleasure and in appreciation of its beauty, gemstones remain, as always, the talismans of power.