A brief history of gemstone jewellery - Wholesale Jewellery Uk

A brief history of gemstone jewellery, from the Prehistoric era until today.

Gemstones are natural or organic materials that have been valued for their beauty, rarity, and durability since ancient times. They have been used to adorn jewellery and other objects for various purposes, such as expressing status, identity, beliefs, or emotions. In this blog post, I will give you an overview of the history of gemstone jewellery, from the prehistoric era to the modern day.

You can also check out some of the beautiful and unique gemstone jewellery pieces in our collections page here: wholesalejewelleryuk.com/collections.

Prehistoric era

The earliest evidence of jewellery making dates back to about 100,000 years ago, when humans used shells, bones, feathers, and pebbles to create ornaments. Some of the oldest known gemstones are amber, coral, jet, and pearl, which are organic materials that come from plants or animals. These gemstones were probably worn for their symbolic or magical properties, as well as for their aesthetic appeal.

Ancient civilizations

As humans developed more advanced skills and tools, they began to mine and work with metals and minerals, such as gold, silver, copper, and bronze. They also discovered and traded more varieties of gemstones, such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, amethyst, and garnet. Different civilizations had different preferences and meanings for gemstones. For example:

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages in Europe, gemstones were mainly worn by royalty and nobility as a display of wealth and power. The most sought-after gemstones were ruby, sapphire, emerald, and pearl. These were often set in gold or silver jewellery with intricate designs and enamels. Gemstones were also used for religious purposes, such as decorating crosses, reliquaries, and rosaries.


The Renaissance period saw a revival of interest in classical art and culture. Gemstones became more accessible and affordable due to the expansion of trade routes and exploration of new lands. New sources of gemstones were discovered in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Some of the new gemstones that entered the European market were diamond, topaz, peridot, opal, turquoise, coral, and amethyst. Gemstones were also cut and polished more skillfully to enhance their brilliance and colour.

Modern era

The modern era witnessed many changes and innovations in the field of gemstone jewellery. Some of the notable developments include:

  • The invention of new cutting techniques that increased the sparkle and fire of diamonds
  • The discovery of new gemstones such as tanzanite (1967), alexandrite (1830), kunzite (1902), morganite (1910), etc.
  • The creation of synthetic or lab-grown gemstones that mimic the appearance and properties of natural ones
  • The development of treatments or enhancements that improve the colour or clarity of gemstones
  • The emergence of new styles and trends that reflect the social and cultural movements of each era


Today, gemstone jewellery is more diverse and accessible than ever before. You can find gemstones in all shapes, sizes, colours, and prices. You can also choose from a variety of settings, materials, and designs. You can even customise your own jewellery with your favourite gemstones. Gemstone jewellery is not only a way to express your personal style, but also a way to connect with the history and meaning of these natural wonders.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post on the history of gemstone jewellery. If you want to learn more about gemstones check out our other gemstone blogs here: wholesalejewelleryuk.com/blogs/gemstones.You can also check out some of the beautiful and unique gemstone jewellery pieces in our collections page here: wholesalejewelleryuk.com/collections. Thank you for reading and happy shopping! 😊

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