The History of the Jewelry Box
As a lover of jewelry boxes (I have quite a collection) I have wondered from time to time just when the first jewelry box was made. One has to think that it couldn’t have been long after mankind started to wear jewelry – right?
Well maybe not. The National Geographic reports that mankind may have started wearing jewelry as far back as 75,000 years ago. If so, we have a significant gap between jewelry’s first appearance and the technology needed to construct the box to hold the jewelry.
Now try as I might, any reference to the world’s oldest jewelry box is not easily found. But we can assume that as mankind evolved and not only jewelry existed but many goods that brought on early commerce, boxes were constructed to hold them all. Actually the first ‘jewelry box’ may have been a ceramic jar as that was a common receptacle to hold goods in ancient times.
Commerce began to prosper in the Middle East as far back as 7000 years ago. The Tigris-Euphrates River area emerged with civilization and with civilization came the need to improve life by bartering and eventually buying and selling goods. Ceramic jars carried dried goods safely to far away places. If jewelry were included in a transport, it would certainly be placed in a ceramic jar as well.
As civilizations became more sophisticated it seems reasonable to assume that boxes started to replace the earthenware containers. The Egyptians were a very sophisticated people and fond of personal adornment which included jewelry. For home use, might they not use a carved wooden box rather than ceramic jug to hold their jewelry. So maybe it was the Egyptians who invented the first jewelry box.
No matter who first invented the concept of a jewelry box, once a common item, steps were made to embellish the box’s exterior. When made of wood, carvings were added. Sometimes fine ivory or precious metals would be embedded into the carvings for them of the elite.
Jewelry boxes started to be manufactured in many materials. Crystal boxes, leather covered boxes and precious metals like silver were used in creating them. Traditional materials like these continue to be used in jewelry containers even today.