How recent is the chain? The early history of the chain as jewelry

The introduction of the chain as wearable jewelry dates back to the time when man first mastered metals. The earliest workings of gold and copper chains date back to 7000 B.C., when gold was undoubtedly the most important metal because of its inherent qualities of malleability, fire resistance, and brightness. Both foil and copper or gold wire have ancient origins, and the latter already covered the function of a necklace. Archaeological excavations in Varna, Bulgaria, have uncovered a series of small rings of wire dating back to the fifth millennium B.C., wrapped and linked together as if forming a chain. Even more important evidence has been identified thanks to the Sumerians, among whom it was customary to bury royalty in the company of servants, musicians, and members of the court. This tradition multiplied the archaeological finds of jewelry worn at court, including necklaces, bracelets, breast ornaments, and many other carefully crafted accessories. Not all of these were of simple workmanship: more complex designs, such as “knot-in-knot” chains, were common at the time.

Among the more complex designs are those in which rings are first welded, then folded and joined to form the weave we know as the “foxtail,” a chain of ancient design invented by the Etruscans but still very relevant today. The Egyptians were also known for their work with chains, and in particular for introducing the trend of stringing pearls and gemstones on the chains themselves. Often used as necklaces and bracelets, or sometimes used to construct the “breastplate”, a piece of jewelry symbolizing bravery and power, adorned with gold leaf, lapis lazuli and other decorations.

 

 

We conclude this little journey through the history of the chain with a detail full of handcrafted beauty: “Helen’s Diadem,” found in 1873 in the palace of Priam, a character from Greek mythology who, according to tradition, was the king of Troy during the Trojan War recounted in The Odyssey. It is said to be a forehead ornament consisting of about 16,000 pieces, divided into several rows of thin chains, along which are attached thousands of gold leaves that gently descend to the shoulders.

The chain is an ornament that has accompanied and enriched the course of human history, often used as a symbol of wealth and power, linked to nobility, and which we still use today to celebrate important events, to enclose our love or to give a gift that allows the wearer to tell others something about himself without having to express it in words. The chain is our language, it is the way we relate to the world, and in the chain, whether enriched with pendants, stones, or other symbols, we jealously enclose the emotions of those moments that have marked our lives.

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