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What is jewelry? Why do we wear it? What meaning does it carry? These are just some of the questions answered in a lavish new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled: Jewelry: The Body Transformed. As I walked through this dazzling display of necklaces, rings, bracelets, ear ornaments and more, I was struck by how little jewelry styles have changed from ancient to modern times. The tiny gold hair rings adorning an Egyptian-style wig looked as if they would be quite at home adorning today’s braided hair extensions. Modern cuff bracelets and notice-me-statement earrings obviously got their start in antiquity too. I also found out that the mesmerizing—and common—form of the spiral was first popularized in 3,000-year-old jewelry. It’s circular unfurling suggests infinity, but it also telegraphs to historians that the metal smiths who made such elegantly precise pieces were technologically advanced. I also learned that matchy-matchy gemstone and cameo-encrusted sets of necklaces, brooches, earrings and bracelets called parures (shown above) were popular with royals in the 19th century, often given as wedding gifts. And the repeated forms paved the way to what we call today, line extensions, because they could be easily duplicated with less expensive stones and even paste which created sparkly ensembles at every price point. With 230 objects on display, there is a lot to see and to learn about. If you are a jewelry lover and are in New York, I urge you to see this show. It will be up through February 24, 2019. And in the meantime, take a look at some of the pieces I thought were outstanding in that they look so on trend for today.—Sue Perry

 

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If you think big, dangly statement earrings and hoops are new—guess again. These date back to ancient times.

 

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Wearing multiple bracelets is not exactly a modern day style invention either.

 

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Talk about killer cuffs! Or was the original purpose wrist armor?

 

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Originally these earrings date back to ancient India, but I’d wear them today!