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What was ancient Egyptian jewelry?

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Quick Answer

Wealthy ancient Egyptians wore amulets, chains, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets, anklets, rings and pectorals fashioned from gold, silver, glass and precious stones with symbolic meanings. The poor wore jewelry made from painted clay, stones, shells, animal teeth and bones. Their jewelry was ornamental but also served religious functions with specific materials, colors and designs associated with different gods and goddesses.

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Full Answer

The ancient Egyptians placed great significance on the power and magic of jewelry, particularly jewelry meant to be worn in the afterlife. Heartscarabs, a type of amulet placed over the heart, played an important role in their religion; it protected the heart and prevented it from being separated from the deceased in the afterlife. The heartscarab could be inscribed with a spell that the deceased recited to protect himself from the Weighing of the Heart Ceremony.

The ancient Egyptians wore turquoise, lapis lazuli and feldspar for good luck and amethysts for happiness. While belief in the symbolism of gemstones is common throughout the world, the ancient Egyptians believed that their jewelry imbued the wearer with magical strength or drew good fortune their way. Their jewelry also protected them from disease and warded off evil. Between this widespread belief and the ubiquitous presence of jewelry, the ancient Egyptians developed highly sophisticated methods of making jewelry as exemplified by Tutankhamun's mask.

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