Whether in terms of customs, values, art and many other things like jewelry, there are things that are universal. This is particularly the case of the pearl bracelet and similar jewellery, which have appeared in many civilizations around the world. Today, we invite you to discover in which countries the men's and women's pearl bracelets were (or are) worn, as well as their meaning.
The long history of the pearl bracelet
The history of pearl jewelry dates back to time immemorial. Very early on, our distant ancestors wanted to adorn themselves in order to improve their appearance, to affirm their social rank, their membership in a group, etc. At first, they made jewelry with what they found, namely bones, teeth, feathers, shells or even natural pearls.
While jewelry such as bracelets and beaded necklaces are undoubtedly fashionable today, they served a prominent cultural role in many cultures:
Bead jewelry in Africa
The oldest pearl jewelry found on the African continent dates back thousands of years. In addition to their decorative character, these necklaces and bracelets were used to mark one's belonging to a tribe, as well as to display one's status. Pearl jewelry could also be used as currency in some lands.
These ornaments also fulfilled a religious role. Beads for bracelets and necklaces came from many materials. They could be natural pearls, but also stone beads, amber, ivory, bone, etc.
Among the Massai, beaded jewelery is used to display one's age and social status. For example, married women wear a long blue beaded necklace. The higher the social rank, the more complex the beaded jewelry becomes .
Pearl bracelet in Greece: komboloi
Without knowing its origin, komboloi has been used for a long time in Greece. It is a sort of rosary, even if it has no religious connotation today. It is rather a piece of jewelry made of amber or glass beads which helps to occupy the hands, to evacuate stress. According to some, komboloi is a simplified Greek version of Chinese stress balls, but this remains to be proven.
Beads were widely used in ancient Egypt for jewelry making. They could be simple pieces; amulets were interspersed between the beads. More complex versions, consisting of several beaded necklaces, were worn by political and religious dignitaries. Some special pearl necklaces were also given to deserving individuals as a reward.
This Mesoamerican civilization began making jewelry more than 5,000 years ago. Initially it was jewelry in jaguar teeth, claws, feathers or stone beads. When the Mayas began to master the work of gold and silver, jewelry made of precious metals appeared. But that didn't hasten the end of pearl jewelry. The Mayans, men and women, particularly loved jade, considered more precious than gold. They transformed it into pearl bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, etc. Jade made it possible to display one's social rank, but also served as currency, an offering to the Gods, a gift, etc.