Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

from poor farmers to wealthy royals

Everyone in ancient Egypt wore jewellery, from affluent royalty to poor farmers. Pieces consisting of semi-precious stones, expensive metals, and glass beads were manufactured for the rich. These were replaced by painted clay, stones, shells, animal teeth, and bones by the poor. Egyptians gave enormous weight to the mystical properties of jewellery and wore it largely to fend off illness, ward off evil, or bring good fortune.

In ancient Egypt, both men and women wore jewellery, such as earrings, necklaces, collars, rings, bracelets, and hair accessories. Numerous examples may be found on sculptures and tomb paintings, however as these works of art were sometimes commissioned by affluent families, the jewellery represented was frequently complex, pricey, or even made by the artists themselves to demonstrate the taste and beauty of the departed.
Jewelry was worn for protection and health as well as for personal ornamentation and status symbols since the Egyptians had a great belief in the ability of jewels and magical symbols to influence their lives.


Ancient Egyptians used a variety of materials to create jewellery, including metals, clay, wood, and precious and semi-precious stones.

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Tutankhamun’s pectoral with three scarab beetles

The Egyptians believed in immortality, which was protected not just by gold jewellery but also by placing several amulets over the mummy’s heart, breast, and neck to assure its safe journey to the afterlife. The linen bandages that covered Tutankhamun’s body contained 143 objects, many of which had the scarab design, which is the most common in Egyptian amuletic jewellery and a symbol of the sun and rebirth. Indeed, amulets were necessary to offer luck and protection to the living as well as the deceased, whether they be royalty or not.

Wah’s Scarab Amulet

Around 2000 BCE, a scribe named Wah who oversaw the sizable estate of a senior official was buried with three amuletic scarabs and bead bracelets around his wrists. This was before the reign of Tutankhamun. The largest and most striking is a big silver scarab with hieroglyphs that is presently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The inscription on the left wing names the scribe Wah as the estate manager of the high official Meketre, whose name is on the right wing.

A little jewellery box with 20 silver bracelets from around 2550 BCE is one breathtaking example; their various sizes indicate that the Queen wore them from the forearm to the wrist. They are butterflies made of silver with semi-precious stone inlays on the head, wings, and tail. The head is turquoise, the wings are lapis lazuli, and the tail is carnelian. Since butterflies undergo a complete metamorphosis—from a caterpillar to a chrysalis, from which the winged adult butterfly emerges—like the scarab beetle, they were used as a symbol of rebirth. The inlaid stones’ symbolic meaning, given that turquoise, lapis lazuli, and carnelian were all seen as having amuletic properties, served as an additional assurance of the Queen’s authority and protection.


The Egyptians believed in immortality, which was protected not just by gold jewellery but also by placing several amulets over the mummy's heart, breast, and neck to assure its safe journey to the afterlife.

Materials Used In Jeweler

To establish their social position and shield their body from harmful energies, the Egyptians employed a range of valuable and semi-precious stones. Ancient Egyptians used a variety of materials to create jewellery, including metals, clay, wood, and precious and semi-precious stones. The primary methods and supplies employed by ancient Egyptian jewellers and artisans to create jewellery for the king and other aristocratic families are listed below.

Egyptian faience

Faience manufacture had advanced to a sophisticated level by the New Kingdom. A lot of beads, amulets, and rings were made using the open-faced mould. Hundreds of colourful pendants were discovered in Thebes in Amunhotep III’s palace, along with the red clay moulds that were used to create them in bulk. Paste was squeezed into the mould, taken out, covered with various coloured glaze, and burned. Molds that had paste within them were thrown away.


Ivory is typically associated with elephant tusks, although it has also come to be understood as the teeth of other huge creatures, such as hippopotamuses. Elephant ivory would have needed to be brought from other regions by the time of the dynasties since elephants were extinct in Egypt; however, hippopotamus ivory was native to Egypt. Additionally, it’s likely that bone was mistaken for ivory in some instances and utilised in those situations. Figurines, game pieces, amulets, and other items were all carved from ivory. Inlays for furniture and chests were also made out of it. Ivory was largely “imported” by the 18th Dynasty. Egypt ruled over a sizable portion of Nubia, and it received a lot of ivory as gifts or tribute. The Tutankhamun tomb was filled with a substantial amount of ivory.


For inlays and jewellery like as pins, pendants, rings, and amulets, raw bone was employed.


Chests, sculptures, furniture, and other priceless items made of wood were discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Wood was occasionally painted or plated. Additionally, it was inlaid with ebony, ivory, glass, glazed terracotta, semi-precious stones, and these materials. The ecclesiastical seat of Tutankhamun is one illustration of this.


Ostrich feathers were utilised in artistically crafted fans as well as in the headdresses and crowns worn by kings and deities.

Adhesives and Binders

Numerous artefacts from the Ancient Egyptian period utilised these materials. The materials used for jewellery inlay are typically referred to as coloured cement, however the assumptions are only conjecture until they have been verified by scientific analysis. Proteins may be found using FT-IR spectroscopy. Chromatography can be used to perform further chemical analyses. Organic adhesives include gum, resin, honey, albumen, and beeswax.

Ancient Egyptian Amulets

Ancient Egyptian amulets included tiny versions of animals, gods, symbols, or things. In addition, some natural objects, like a shell or a claw, were believed to be endowed with magical power and might thus serve as amulets. There are also so-called textual amulets, which often consist of a brief magical spell inscribed on a piece of papyrus or linen that has been folded and strung. Anything may theoretically be magically transformed into an amulet.Because of their size, form, and—in certain cases—their usage as a necklace, modern artefacts from ancient Egypt are frequently recognised as amulets. However, many amulets, particularly those made by nature, are difficult to identify as such when taken away of their native setting.

Ancient Heart Scarabs

The heart scarab was a particularly well-liked amulet. The heart served as the locus not just of life, but also of thought, memory, and moral principles for the ancient Egyptians. Maat, the idea of order and fairness, was believed to be balanced against the heart in the final judgement. The departed was only permitted to continue living in the afterlife if they had led a righteous life. Naturally, the Egyptians dreaded a bad result, so they utilised specific amulets to guarantee a good verdict. The so-called heart scarab spell is often written engraved in the Book of the Dead on the flat underside of a heart scarab.

Ancient Egyptian Bracelets

Armlets or cuff types were used as bracelets. Rameses III wore these armlets, which are currently on display at the Cairo Museum. Kings were renowned for their vast jeweler collections. This New Kingdom-era bracelet made of gold, glass, and semiprecious stones bears inscriptions regarding Pharaoh Thutmose III.

They are constructed of burnished gold and include fading turquoise and dark blue glass inlays as well as carnelian and carnelian inlay. Each one has Thutmose III’s cartouches and epithets engraved on the inner surface, indicating that it was the monarch who gave it to the person.

Ancient Egyptian Rings

The signet ring, commonly referred to as a “seal,” had much greater significance than just serving as a seal for papers or the like. Similar to how written signatures are used now, the signet ring was formerly in use. A signet ring was a symbol of great authority, frequently used in commercial dealings among the upper class or as proof of ownership of real estate. Each signet ring was personalised, and those in authority had distinguishable inscriptions. Each signet ring was unique. The flat side in ancient Egypt exhibited exquisitely crafted sculptures and inscriptions. The ancient Egyptians valued beetles much, and drawings of them as well as hieroglyphics were frequently found. While more typical signet rings were made of porcelain or clay, others were made of gold, mostly for the nobles.

This signet ring’s orientation reveals wear from repeated usage as a seal. Tutankhamun’s prenomen, Neb-kheperu-re, is engraved down the middle, and on each side, the monarch is alluded to as “beloved of Amun, master of eternity.” The pendant sign for “life” occurs with the sun disc in the word for “eternity,” which was a typical inscription of the sign under Akhenaten’s rule.

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