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When Did Jewelry Begin? A Comprehensive Exploration of the History and Evolution of Adornment. – Women's Casual Fashion: Embrace Comfort and Style

When Did Jewelry Begin? A Comprehensive Exploration of the History and Evolution of Adornment.

JewelryLeave a Comment on When Did Jewelry Begin? A Comprehensive Exploration of the History and Evolution of Adornment.

When Did Jewelry Begin? A Comprehensive Exploration of the History and Evolution of Adornment.

The art of adornment has been a part of human history for thousands of years. From ancient civilizations to modern times, jewelry has played a significant role in personal expression, cultural identity, and social status. But when did this fascination with jewelry begin? In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the history and evolution of jewelry, uncovering its origins and tracing its development through the ages. Join us on a journey through time, as we discover the rich and varied history of this enduring art form.

The Origins of Jewelry: A Peek into the Past

The Early History of Jewelry

The early history of jewelry dates back to the Paleolithic era, where archaeological evidence suggests that humans have been adorning themselves with various materials for over 100,000 years. Some of the earliest examples of jewelry include bone, shell, and stone beads, which were used as personal adornments and symbolic representations of social status and wealth.

During this time, jewelry was also used as a form of protection and healing. For example, early humans would wear amulets and talismans made from animal teeth, bones, and other materials to ward off evil spirits and promote good health.

One of the earliest recorded instances of jewelry was discovered in the caves of southern Africa, where archaeologists found shell beads dating back over 75,000 years. These beads were likely traded and passed down through generations, as they were found in multiple locations across the continent.

In ancient civilizations, jewelry played a significant role in social and cultural practices. For example, in ancient Egypt, jewelry was used to display wealth and status, with pharaohs and other wealthy individuals adorning themselves with elaborate gold and gemstone pieces. Similarly, in ancient Greece, jewelry was used to signify social status and was often given as a gift during religious ceremonies.

Overall, the early history of jewelry is characterized by its functional and symbolic significance, as well as its role in human culture and society.

Materials Used in the Earliest Jewelry

Natural Materials: Gemstones, Shells, and Bones

The earliest jewelry making used natural materials that were readily available. These materials were often associated with magical properties and were believed to bring good luck or protection. Gemstones such as agate, amber, and jasper were highly prized for their colors and unique patterns. Shells, especially those from the cowrie and conch species, were used to create elaborate necklaces and bracelets. Bones, particularly those from sacred animals, were carved into beads and worn as personal talismans.

Man-Made Materials: Beads and Metal

As civilizations advanced, man-made materials were introduced into jewelry making. Beads were crafted from materials such as clay, glass, and pottery, and were often strung together to form necklaces, bracelets, and belts. Metalworking also became more prevalent, with gold, silver, and copper being used to create intricate pieces. The ancient Egyptians, for example, were skilled in working with precious metals and created elaborate jewelry pieces adorned with gemstones and religious symbols.

The Symbolism of Early Jewelry

The Significance of Gemstones and Metals

Early jewelry was not just a decorative accessory, but also held great symbolic significance. Gemstones and metals were chosen for their specific meanings and properties, which were believed to imbue the wearer with certain qualities or protect them from harm. For example, the ancient Egyptians believed that wearing a lapis lazuli pendant would bring them the wisdom of the gods, while the Greeks believed that wearing a gold bracelet would bring them good luck.

Jewelry as a Form of Status and Power

In addition to their symbolic significance, early jewelry also served as a status symbol and a display of power. Rulers and aristocrats would often adorn themselves with elaborate jewelry made from precious metals and gemstones, showcasing their wealth and status. This tradition continued throughout history, with monarchs and nobles wearing elaborate crowns, tiaras, and necklaces to symbolize their power and authority.

The Evolution of Jewelry-Making Techniques

From Basic Tools to Advanced Techniques

The earliest forms of jewelry were likely made using basic tools such as bone, wood, and stone. These primitive tools allowed for the creation of simple pieces such as beads and pendants. As time passed, new materials and techniques were discovered, leading to the creation of more complex and intricate pieces.

One of the most significant advancements in jewelry-making techniques was the development of metalworking. The use of metals such as gold, silver, and copper allowed for the creation of more durable and sophisticated pieces. Metalworking techniques such as casting, soldering, and engraving became essential to the creation of high-quality jewelry.

As metals became more widely available, new techniques were developed to enhance their appearance and durability. For example, the use of enamel, a type of glass, was introduced in the 15th century to decorate metal jewelry. This allowed for the creation of vibrant and colorful pieces that were both functional and beautiful.

The Role of Trade and Exchange in the Spread of Jewelry-Making Knowledge

Trade and exchange played a significant role in the spread of jewelry-making knowledge throughout history. As civilizations interacted and exchanged goods, new techniques and materials were introduced to different regions. This led to the development of unique styles and techniques that were influenced by a variety of cultures.

For example, the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected China to the Mediterranean, facilitated the exchange of goods and ideas between East and West. As a result, jewelry-making techniques from China, such as the use of jade and bronze, were introduced to other parts of the world.

In addition to trade, war and conquest also played a role in the spread of jewelry-making knowledge. As armies conquered new territories, they often brought back new materials and techniques to their own cultures. This led to the fusion of different styles and techniques, resulting in unique and innovative forms of jewelry.

Overall, the evolution of jewelry-making techniques has been a long and complex process that has been shaped by a variety of factors. From basic tools to advanced techniques, the development of new materials and methods has allowed for the creation of stunning and intricate pieces that continue to captivate and inspire us today.

The Middle Ages: A Time of Innovation and Adornment

Key takeaway: The history of jewelry spans over a million years, with early humans adorning themselves with natural materials such as bone, shell, and stone beads. During the Middle Ages, jewelry became a status symbol for the elite class, while the Renaissance saw an increase in the use of gemstones and new materials, as well as the incorporation of classical motifs and styles. The Industrial Revolution brought about significant changes in the production and distribution of jewelry, leading to the mass production of items such as necklaces, bracelets, and rings. Finally, the modern era of jewelry began with the industrial revolution in the 19th century, which marked a significant shift in the way jewelry was produced and consumed.

The Role of Jewelry in Medieval Society

Royal and Noble Adornment

During the Middle Ages, jewelry played a significant role in the lives of royalty and nobility. The elite class used jewelry as a means of displaying their wealth and status, often commissioning elaborate pieces made from precious metals and gemstones. These opulent adornments were not only symbols of prestige but also served as talismans of power. For instance, rulers would often be depicted wearing crowns, signifying their authority and dominion over their subjects. Additionally, the use of heraldic symbols, such as family crests, was prevalent in royal and noble jewelry, serving as a means of identification and establishing a sense of lineage.

The Significance of Religious Jewelry

Religion held a central place in the lives of people during the Middle Ages, and jewelry played a crucial role in expressing one’s devotion to their faith. Religious jewelry, such as crosses, crucifixes, and rosaries, were worn as symbols of piety and spiritual connection. These adornments often featured intricate designs and were crafted from precious materials, reflecting the value placed on religious beliefs and practices. In some cases, religious jewelry was commissioned by the church or patronized by members of the clergy, further emphasizing its significance in medieval society. Moreover, these jewelry pieces were not only personal expressions of faith but also served as protective talismans, warding off evil and offering spiritual guidance to the wearer.

Overall, the role of jewelry in medieval society was multifaceted, reflecting the complex social, political, and religious dynamics of the time. Through the commissioning and wearing of jewelry, royals and nobles demonstrated their wealth and power, while religious adornments expressed devotion and spiritual connection. The intricate designs and precious materials used in medieval jewelry provide insight into the values and beliefs of this historical period, making them an essential aspect of understanding the evolution of adornment.

Popular Jewelry Styles of the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, jewelry played a significant role in the social and cultural life of Europe. As trade flourished and new techniques were developed, the styles of jewelry changed, reflecting the evolving tastes and beliefs of the time. Here are some of the most popular jewelry styles of the Middle Ages:

The Use of Gemstones and Precious Metals

Gemstones and precious metals were highly prized during the Middle Ages, and they were often used to create stunning pieces of jewelry. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds were popular choices, and they were often set in gold or silver. These stones were believed to have magical properties, and they were often used to symbolize love, faith, and power.

The Rise of Filigree and Enamel Work

Filigree and enamel work were two techniques that became popular during the Middle Ages. Filigree is a delicate form of metalwork that involves twisting and shaping fine wires into intricate patterns. This technique was often used to create fine details on jewelry pieces, such as rings, bracelets, and necklaces.

Enamel work involved applying powdered glass to metal surfaces and firing them at high temperatures to create a smooth, hard surface. This technique was often used to create colorful and detailed designs on jewelry pieces, such as brooches, pendants, and earrings.

Overall, the jewelry styles of the Middle Ages were characterized by their intricate designs, the use of precious materials, and their symbolic significance. These styles reflect the rich cultural heritage of Europe during this time, and they continue to inspire jewelry designers today.

The Impact of Trade and Travel on Medieval Jewelry

The Spread of Jewelry-Making Techniques Across Europe and the Middle East

During the Middle Ages, trade and travel played a significant role in the spread of jewelry-making techniques across Europe and the Middle East. Merchants and travelers often carried with them stories of new designs, materials, and techniques that they had encountered in their travels. These stories, combined with the materials and techniques that they brought with them, led to the spread of new ideas and techniques in jewelry-making.

One of the most significant factors in the spread of jewelry-making techniques was the growth of trade routes. The Silk Road, for example, connected China, India, and Southeast Asia with Europe, and it allowed for the exchange of goods, ideas, and techniques. This trade route allowed for the spread of precious stones, metals, and other materials that were used in jewelry-making. In addition, it facilitated the exchange of jewelry-making techniques and designs between different cultures.

The Influence of Byzantine and Islamic Art on Medieval Jewelry

The Middle Ages also saw the influence of Byzantine and Islamic art on medieval jewelry. Byzantine art, with its use of intricate designs and religious iconography, had a significant impact on the jewelry of Europe. Byzantine jewelry was often characterized by its use of gold, pearls, and precious stones, as well as its intricate designs and filigree work.

Islamic art also had a significant impact on medieval jewelry. Islamic jewelry was known for its use of intricate geometric patterns, calligraphy, and the use of precious stones such as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. These designs and techniques were often incorporated into medieval jewelry, leading to the creation of beautiful and intricate pieces.

Overall, the impact of trade and travel on medieval jewelry was significant. The growth of trade routes, the exchange of materials and techniques, and the influence of different cultures all played a role in the evolution of jewelry-making during this time period.

The Renaissance: A Time of Revival and Innovation

The Reawakening of Interest in Ancient Art and Culture

During the Renaissance, there was a renewed interest in ancient art and culture. This period marked a significant shift in the way people viewed and valued the art of the past. As a result, the influence of ancient civilizations, particularly the Greeks and Romans, began to resurface in various forms of art, including jewelry.

The Impact of Classical Ideals on Renaissance Jewelry

One of the most significant impacts of the reawakened interest in ancient art and culture was the revival of classical ideals in Renaissance jewelry. Artists and craftsmen began to look to the past for inspiration, and as a result, classical motifs and themes became prominent in their work. This was particularly evident in the use of classical gemstones, such as amethysts, rubies, and emeralds, which were highly prized during the Renaissance and were often incorporated into jewelry designs.

The Influence of Religious and Mythological Themes

Religious and mythological themes also played a significant role in the reawakening of interest in ancient art and culture during the Renaissance. Many artists and craftsmen sought to convey religious and mythological themes through their jewelry designs, drawing inspiration from ancient texts and stories. For example, jewelry featuring images of gods and goddesses, such as Venus and Cupid, became popular during this time, as did jewelry that incorporated religious symbols, such as crosses and holy icons.

In addition to religious and mythological themes, the natural world also served as a source of inspiration for Renaissance jewelers. The intricate designs and intricate patterns found in nature, such as leaves, flowers, and birds, were often incorporated into jewelry designs, creating beautiful and intricate pieces that reflected the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

Overall, the reawakening of interest in ancient art and culture during the Renaissance had a profound impact on the evolution of jewelry design. As artists and craftsmen looked to the past for inspiration, they incorporated classical motifs, religious and mythological themes, and natural elements into their work, creating some of the most beautiful and iconic jewelry designs of all time.

The Use of New Techniques and Materials

The Revival of Enamel Work and Filigree

During the Renaissance, enamel work and filigree experienced a revival. Enamel work involved the application of finely ground glass powder to metal, which was then fired at high temperatures to create a durable, decorative surface. Filigree, on the other hand, involved the creation of delicate, twisted threads of metal that were used to create intricate patterns and designs.

The Introduction of New Gemstones and Materials

The Renaissance also saw the introduction of new gemstones and materials into jewelry design. New sources of gemstones, such as South America and the East Indies, were discovered, leading to an increase in the availability and variety of precious stones. Additionally, new materials, such as pearls and coral, were incorporated into jewelry designs, further expanding the range of possibilities for jewelers.

The Development of New Techniques and Methods

The Renaissance was also a time of great innovation in terms of the techniques and methods used in jewelry making. New tools and equipment were developed, such as the microscopes and magnifying glasses, which allowed jewelers to work with greater precision and detail. Additionally, new techniques such as casting and chasing were refined and perfected, allowing for greater versatility and creativity in jewelry design.

Overall, the Renaissance was a period of great change and innovation in the world of jewelry. The revival of enamel work and filigree, the introduction of new gemstones and materials, and the development of new techniques and methods all contributed to the evolution of jewelry design and the creation of some of the most beautiful and intricate pieces ever made.

The Impact of Trade and Exploration on Renaissance Jewelry

The Renaissance, a period of cultural revival and innovation, saw significant changes in the world of jewelry. One of the most notable developments during this time was the impact of trade and exploration on the jewelry produced in Europe. The influx of new materials, ideas, and cultures led to a flourishing of creativity and experimentation in the field of jewelry design.

The Importance of Gemstones in Renaissance Adornment

Gemstones played a crucial role in Renaissance jewelry, as they had done for centuries before. However, during this period, there was a renewed interest in the use of gemstones as a means of displaying wealth and status. New trade routes to Asia and the Americas brought an abundance of precious stones to Europe, such as diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. These stones were incorporated into extravagant pieces of jewelry, including crowns, tiaras, and necklaces, which were worn by the elite classes to showcase their wealth and power.

The Influence of Non-European Art and Culture on Renaissance Jewelry

The Renaissance was also marked by an increased interest in the arts and culture of non-European societies. This interest led to the incorporation of new motifs and styles in jewelry design, as well as the use of new materials such as gold and silver from the Americas. The influence of these non-European cultures can be seen in the intricate filigree work and elaborate designs that characterized much of the jewelry produced during this period. Additionally, the use of pearls, which were highly prized by non-European cultures, became more widespread in Europe during the Renaissance.

In conclusion, the impact of trade and exploration on Renaissance jewelry was significant, leading to a flourishing of creativity and experimentation in the field of jewelry design. The influx of new materials, ideas, and cultures resulted in the incorporation of gemstones, new motifs, and styles, and the use of pearls, which became more widespread in Europe during this period.

The Modern Era: Industrialization and Mass Production

The Industrial Revolution and Its Impact on Jewelry

The Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 18th century and lasted through the 19th century, transformed the way jewelry was made and marketed. This period of rapid industrialization brought about significant changes in the production and distribution of jewelry, leading to an increase in the availability and affordability of adornments.

The Emergence of Machine-Made Jewelry

The Industrial Revolution saw the emergence of machine-made jewelry, which allowed for the mass production of items such as necklaces, bracelets, and rings. This new method of production reduced the time and labor required to create jewelry, making it more accessible to a wider range of consumers.

The use of machinery also allowed for the creation of intricate and detailed designs that would have been difficult or impossible to produce by hand. This led to a proliferation of new styles and techniques in jewelry making, as well as an increase in the variety of materials used to create adornments.

The Growth of the Jewelry Industry

The growth of the jewelry industry during the Industrial Revolution was driven by a number of factors. The increased availability of raw materials, such as gold and silver, made it possible to produce more jewelry at a lower cost. The development of new technologies, such as the steam engine, allowed for the efficient transportation of raw materials and finished products.

In addition, the rise of department stores and other retail outlets provided a new channel for the distribution of jewelry, making it more accessible to a wider audience. This led to an increase in demand for jewelry, as more people were able to afford to purchase adornments for themselves and their loved ones.

Overall, the Industrial Revolution had a profound impact on the jewelry industry, leading to the emergence of machine-made jewelry and the growth of the industry as a whole. As a result, jewelry became more widely available and affordable, allowing for its widespread adoption as a form of personal adornment and expression.

The Art Nouveau Movement and Its Influence on Modern Jewelry

The Use of Natural Forms and Curvilinear Designs

During the Art Nouveau period, jewelers began to experiment with natural forms and curvilinear designs, moving away from the rigid geometric shapes of the past. This newfound appreciation for nature led to the creation of pieces that featured organic motifs such as flowers, leaves, and serpents. The use of these natural forms not only added a sense of movement and fluidity to the jewelry but also symbolized the connection between humans and the natural world.

The Rise of Platinum and Other Non-Traditional Metals

Platinum, a rare and expensive metal, gained popularity during the Art Nouveau period due to its unique properties and ability to be crafted into intricate and delicate designs. Alongside platinum, other non-traditional metals such as silver and copper were also used in the creation of Art Nouveau jewelry, adding to the diversity of materials available to jewelers. The use of these metals allowed for more flexible and organic forms, further contributing to the overall aesthetic of the movement.

The incorporation of these non-traditional metals not only expanded the range of creative possibilities for jewelers but also highlighted the technical advancements made during the Industrial Revolution. The accessibility of these materials, combined with the innovative techniques developed during this time, led to the mass production of Art Nouveau jewelry, making it more widely available and accessible to the general public.

The Influence of Art and Society on Modern Jewelry

The modern era of jewelry began with the industrial revolution in the 19th century, which marked a significant shift in the way jewelry was produced and consumed. The industrial revolution brought about advancements in technology and manufacturing processes, which enabled the mass production of jewelry. As a result, jewelry became more accessible to the general public, and new styles and designs emerged.

The Role of Fashion in Shaping Jewelry Trends

Fashion has always played a crucial role in shaping jewelry trends. As fashion evolves, so does the style of jewelry that is popular. For example, during the Victorian era, lavish and elaborate jewelry was in fashion, while in the 1920s, the flapper style of jewelry emerged, characterized by long strands of beads and bold statement pieces. The influence of fashion on jewelry design has only increased with the rise of social media, which has made it easier for trends to spread quickly.

The Impact of Social and Political Movements on Jewelry Design

Social and political movements have also had a significant impact on jewelry design. For example, during the suffragette movement in the early 20th century, women began to wear brooches and pins that symbolized their support for women’s rights. Similarly, during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, many people wore jewelry that represented their support for the cause, such as the iconic “Hands Up” donut pin. These examples illustrate how jewelry can be used as a form of political and social expression.

The Future of Jewelry: Innovation and Sustainability

The Current State of the Jewelry Industry

  • The jewelry industry has seen significant changes in recent years, with a growing focus on sustainability and ethical practices.
  • Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of their purchases, leading to a demand for more sustainable and ethical jewelry options.
  • Many jewelry brands are now taking steps to address these concerns, by using eco-friendly materials, recycling, and supporting fair labor practices.
  • In addition to sustainability, innovation and technology are also playing a key role in the jewelry industry.
  • Advancements in 3D printing, virtual reality, and other technologies are allowing for new and innovative jewelry designs, as well as more efficient and sustainable production processes.
  • The jewelry industry is also embracing digital marketing and e-commerce, allowing for greater accessibility and convenience for consumers.
  • Overall, the current state of the jewelry industry is one of evolution and change, as brands work to meet the demands of today’s conscious consumers.

The Future of Jewelry Design

As we move further into the 21st century, the future of jewelry design is looking brighter than ever. With the continued influence of global cultures and art movements, as well as the potential for new materials and techniques, the possibilities for innovative and sustainable jewelry designs are endless.

The Continued Influence of Global Cultures and Art Movements

One of the most exciting aspects of the future of jewelry design is the continued influence of global cultures and art movements. As the world becomes more interconnected, designers are able to draw inspiration from a wider range of sources, creating unique and diverse pieces that reflect the richness and complexity of human experience.

For example, African-inspired jewelry has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with designers incorporating traditional materials and techniques into modern designs. Similarly, the influence of Asian art and culture can be seen in the use of bold colors and geometric shapes in contemporary jewelry.

As the world continues to change and evolve, so too will the influence of global cultures and art movements on jewelry design. It is exciting to think about the new and innovative ways that designers will be able to push the boundaries of what is possible.

The Potential for New Materials and Techniques

Another key aspect of the future of jewelry design is the potential for new materials and techniques. With advances in technology and sustainability becoming an increasingly important concern, designers are exploring new ways to create beautiful and meaningful pieces while minimizing their impact on the environment.

For example, many designers are turning to sustainable materials such as recycled metals and ethically-sourced gemstones, as well as incorporating natural materials like wood and bone into their designs. Additionally, new techniques such as 3D printing and laser cutting are allowing designers to create intricate and unique pieces that would have been impossible in the past.

As technology continues to advance, it is likely that we will see even more innovative materials and techniques being used in jewelry design. The possibilities are truly endless, and we can look forward to seeing how designers will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.

The Impact of Societal Changes on Jewelry Trends

The Rise of Custom and Personalized Jewelry

As society becomes more individualistic, the demand for custom and personalized jewelry has increased. Consumers now seek unique pieces that reflect their personal style and personality. This trend has led to the rise of small, independent jewelry designers who offer bespoke pieces tailored to each client’s specifications. Additionally, some high-end jewelry brands have embraced this trend by offering customizable options for their existing designs, allowing customers to create their own one-of-a-kind pieces.

The Impact of Digital Technology on Jewelry Design and Production

Digital technology has had a profound impact on the jewelry industry, from design to production. 3D printing technology has enabled designers to create intricate and complex pieces that were previously impossible to make. It has also allowed for more efficient and cost-effective production processes, reducing waste and streamlining the supply chain. Additionally, social media platforms have given jewelry designers a global platform to showcase their work and connect with customers, opening up new markets and opportunities for growth.

However, the increasing reliance on digital technology has also raised concerns about the sustainability of the industry. The mining of precious metals and gems is a resource-intensive process that can have negative environmental and social impacts. As such, there is a growing trend towards sustainable and ethical jewelry production, with many designers using recycled materials and supporting fair labor practices in their supply chains.

FAQs

1. When did jewelry first begin?

The exact origin of jewelry is difficult to pinpoint, as it predates written history. However, the first evidence of jewelry dates back to the Neolithic period, around 8,000 BCE. Early jewelry was likely made from materials readily available at the time, such as shells, stones, bones, and wood.

2. What was the earliest known jewelry made of?

The earliest known jewelry was made from natural materials that were easily accessible, such as shells, stones, bones, and wood. These materials were often shaped into simple forms like beads, pendants, and amulets.

3. What was the purpose of jewelry in ancient times?

In ancient times, jewelry served a variety of purposes. It was often used as a symbol of social status, wealth, and power. Additionally, jewelry was also used for protection and as a talisman to ward off evil spirits. In some cultures, jewelry was also used as a form of currency.

4. How has jewelry evolved over time?

Jewelry has evolved significantly over time, with each civilization adding its own unique style and techniques. From the early use of natural materials, jewelry has evolved to include a wide range of materials, such as metal, glass, and plastic. Techniques such as casting, engraving, and enameling have also been developed over time, allowing for greater intricacy and detail in jewelry design.

5. What is the most valuable type of jewelry?

The value of jewelry can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including the materials used, the rarity of the stones, and the workmanship involved. Some of the most valuable types of jewelry include rare gemstones, such as diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, as well as antique or historical pieces.

6. What is the difference between costume jewelry and fine jewelry?

Costume jewelry is typically made from less expensive materials, such as plastic, wood, and metal, and is often designed to mimic the look of more expensive fine jewelry. Fine jewelry, on the other hand, is made from precious metals and gemstones and is often crafted by skilled artisans. Fine jewelry is also often passed down as heirlooms and can have significant sentimental value.

7. What is the future of jewelry?

The future of jewelry is constantly evolving, with new technologies and materials being developed all the time. Digital technology has opened up new possibilities for jewelry design, such as 3D printing and computer-aided design. Additionally, there is a growing trend towards sustainability and ethical production in the jewelry industry, which will likely continue to shape the future of jewelry.

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