Jewelry pre-dates the development of metal-working. Archaeologists discovered mollusk shells that had been perforated to be strung into beads (see pic), some of the oldest known man-made jewelry. Discovered in a cave in Blombos, South Africa, the beads date back to 75,000 to 100,000 years ago.
The earliest jewelry was fashioned from natural materials including animal teeth, bone, various types of shells, carved stone and wood. It may have been used for fastening clothing, adornment, or for religious purposes. Jewelry was later used as a symbol of wealth and status, a ward against evil, or for healing.
The earliest known metal used by humans was native gold found in Spanish caves. Artifacts from the area date back from 40,000 to 10,000 BC. The soft gold and silver could easily be worked by hammering or shaping with tools into desired shapes. The soft metals could also be used to decorate harder metals. The magnificent pieces pictured are all more than 2,000 years old.
Tomorrow, Ancient Art Rita Bay