Who is above the fascination of ancient Egyptian gold jewelry? Can one easily forget the dazzling pieces worn by Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra? The mystique and glamour associated with the intricate and symbolic ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic designs crafted in burnished gold and adorned in precious gemstones is unmatched. The discovery of the tomb of king Tut (Pharaoh Tutankhamun) is perhaps one of the most sensational archeological discoveries and the star attraction of it was the fabulous jewels included in the sarcophaguses. Gold jewelry played a very important role in ancient Egyptian culture and its use was widespread among the pharaohs and elite.
Infused with spiritual symbolism and magical religious beliefs, ancient Egyptian gold jewelry took on a significance of its own in that ancient culture. Ancient Egyptian jewelry has long remained unchanged in design even after contact with other civilizations and this fact speaks for the depth of belief supporting the iconographic designs and symbolism built into this jewelry. When it is a question of evaluating what was the most popular piece of jewelry worn in ancient Egypt, gold jewelry symbolizing protection from external forces and eternal life wins hands down.
There is a close link to the symbology of hieroglyphic writing that can be observed in Egyptian gold jewelry. It is composed largely of symbols with precise names and meanings like the scarab, the lotus flower, the Isis knot, the Horus eye, the falcon, the serpent, the vulture and the Sphinx. Beaded necklaces were very popular and a particular type, the menat, had a very high and divine significance, hence it was worn only by the Pharaohs. Take for example Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s menat which was discovered in his tomb; it is a long necklace of many rows of gold beads in different shapes and colours, each with a precise significance and a pendant and decorative fastenings that hung down behind the shoulders. Protective amulets and Egyptian gold bracelets too enjoyed a degree of popularity in this ancient culture. Even the most humble of men were found buried with at least a small gold ring, such was the importance of having jewelry for protection in the afterlife.
Ancient Egyptian gold jewelry continues to inspire modern day jewel designers and chic modern jewelry is designed using these timeless symbols which are just as significant today as they were thousands of years ago!