Some of the Very First Gold Jewellery

Most people are aware that gold has been around for a very long time, but I was quite surprised just how long it has been a part of our lives.

I know that sounds like a silly thing to say, but just consider the following points for a moment.  In today’s world, we have access to incredible amounts of information and technology. The internet, search engines, libraries (yes, people DO still read books!), news, documentaries, satellite technology, radar, ground scanning equipment, historical mining reports, not to mention vast records and archives available to research absolutely anything, anywhere in the world and beyond.  It’s mind blowing.


To know how to find gold and then how to mine it, is something that is certainly possible to do and easy to find out about today, compared to even just 50 years ago, or maybe even before the internet in the early 1990s.

Having considered all of that, it makes it even more extraordinary that it was approximately 5,000 years ago that gold was first discovered.  And they did it without the help of Facebook or SatNav!!  Quite incredible really.


It took a while before metal working techniques were discovered and fine-tuned (around 3,000 BC), before this prized and mystical metal could be transformed into the first jewellery.  Even though jewellery has been around for over 7,000 years, it was mostly made with stones, minerals, bone, wood and leather.

Ancient Egypt was one of the first to use gold to make simple forms of jewellery, often incorporating stones or rare minerals to add variety and colour to their early and simple designs.  Unfortunately, very little has survived or been found from this period of Ancient Egypt, so the specific designs or quality of craftsmanship can only be guessed at.

The oldest examples of gold jewellery which have been recovered, are not from Egypt but from Ancient Babylonia (Iraq).

Within the ancient Babylonian City of Ur of the Chaldees, is the so-called “Royal Tombs”.  The City of Ur was the most powerful City / State in Mesopotamia.  The tomb of Queen Pu-abi has been a wonderful source of ancient treasure giving us some of the earliest jewellery ever found, dating back to around 2,500 BC.


                                  Sumerian Court Jewellery from the Royal Tombs of Ur.      (2,500 BC)


The items found were of high quality and surprisingly elaborate in design, despite their great age and considering that jewellery design was still a relatively new art-form.  They included hair ornaments made from sheet gold which had been cut out and embossed with patterns and formed into flowers.  Also found within Queen Pu-abi’s jewels were, ear-rings, gold chains and necklaces which had Agate, Cornelian and Lapis Lazuli.  Finger rings inlaid with Lapis Lazuli and covered with complex designs were also among the golden treasure found.

If it wasn’t incredible enough to discover jewellery made around 2,500 BC, it is also nothing short of a miracle that these pieces had survived nearly 4,500 years before they were found.  They were discovered during an archaeological dig between 1921 and 1934.

A startling testament to gold’s amazing qualities and endurance as everyone’s favourite metal!


If you wanted to see what other treasures The British Museum has, their website address is  :   http://www.britishmuseum.org



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