Development of Jewelry in Ancient China

As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, China started producing jewelry around 5000 year ago during the rise of Yang-Shao and Lungshanoid cultures in the delta of river Yangtze. As the time went on their civilization grew, and new jewelry designs rose to such popularity that all the Asian surrounding countries soon found themselves under heavy influence of Chinese culture which preferred silver over gold, and jade over any other precious gemstone.

Huan in shape of a coiled serpent - picture

Chinese jewelry designs focused greatly on the use of Jade, which was viewed as a stone who has best human qualities of hardiness, durability and beauty. It was thought that jade protects the bearer as a talisman, and it provided status symbol that indicated grace, dignity and morality of the owner. Jade was held in such high regard that it was more precious than gold and new techniques of jewel making were introduced because of it and not gold or other precious metal (such as 7th to 4th century BC ring making technique of compound milling machine, which appeared in the rest of the world many centuries later).

The most popular decorative items in china were without a doubt amulets, pins, headdresses, headbands, rings and earrings. All of those items were worn by both males and females, and jewelry often showcased the wealth and status of the bearer (with the blue color being secured by Chinese royal family). Since the earliest days of their culture, dragons and phoenix became one of the most popular designs that could be found in Chinese jewelry. Famous five clawed dragon became mark of a Chinese emperor, while fenghuang phoenix was the symbol of his empress.

Many magnificent ancient Chinese jewelry pieces survived the tooth of time because of the tradition of burying wealth with the owner. This enabled modern archeologist to found truly staggering amount of this precious remnants of ancient art.