The ancient Egyptians were truly awesome and many may already know this era provided us with the basis for many things from the written language to architecture. The first known monumental stone structures are the pyramids - and the hieroglyphs inscribed inside these tombs are often considered to be one the earliest systems of writing. However, many may not know that Egyptian socialites influenced jewellery and beauty trends that are still used today. Ever rocked a statement collar necklace or donned that iconic thick eyeliner flick? We have the Egyptians to thank for that! Popularised by empresses such as Cleopatra and Nefertiti, bold eye makeup, stunning gold jewellery and the use of precious gems in accessories are all creations originating from Egypt thousands of years ago.
Cleopatra's name is synonymous with beauty, style, and female power and many stars from Cher to Beyoncé have paid homage to this fierce ruler at least once. Numerous paintings depict this empress ladened with extravagant gold necklaces, earrings, and headdresses – a trend that is still prevalent in modern culture. Worn by both and women, heavy gold jewellery was almost a statement piece in most high societies throughout Ancient Egypt. Many Egyptians believed that stunning gold jewellery would attract the attention of the gods. Egyptians also believed being buried with jewellery and other precious items brought prosperity in the afterlife. Heavy gold neck collars, bracelets, earrings and rings have all been found in tombs of ancient Mediterranean kings and queens.
Egyptian queens and other women of high status also popularised the use of gold in headdresses and hair jewellery.
The earliest types of pendant necklaces were probably made during this era. Along with thick jewellery, beautiful, delicate amulets and talismans were also worn regularly as they were seen as good luck charms. These necklaces featured symbols such as the Ankh, the eye of Ra/Horus, cats, lions, scarab beetles and birds. Necklaces were also worn by Egyptians to show their allegiance with the gods they believed in.
It's no secret that the Egyptians loved bright colours. Even though they had access to a variety of precious stones, semi-precious gems were favoured more because of their bright, colourful hues. The use of gemstones in clothing as well as in jewellery was also popular during Ancient Egyptian times.
Like gold artefacts, highly-sought after semi-precious gems such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, jasper and carnelian have been found in many ancient Egyptian burial tombs. The Egyptians believed certain gemstones carried healing properties and brought good luck to the wearer. People from lower classes also enjoyed wearing jewellery, however, these bracelets, necklaces and earrings were often made from beads and shells - another trend that is still popular today!
One of the most iconic symbols of Egypt is the bust of Nefertiti – and it’s not hard to see why. This Queen epitomised beauty as well as female power. Nefertiti, whose name even translates as “beautiful has come”, ruled as the queen of Egypt alongside her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten around 1350-1330 BCE. The famous bust of Nefertiti features the iconic flicked eyeliner look that was very common amongst people of high status in Egypt. Not only was kohl eyeliner used to enhance the eyes, but salts were also added to eyeliner to ward off bacteria and eye infections. Cleopatra also influenced the use of bright coloured blue, green and red eyeshadows. Who knew mixing paste with crushed plants/softer gems and then applying it to the lids would create a look that would live on for centuries!
Take your jewellery game to royal heights with stunning bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings inspired by fearless, female rulers and leaders. The Extraordinary Collection for Extraordinary Women exudes female power and celebrates the fearlessness in all of us.
Channel the ruler in you!