I am so jealous of anyone who lives within driving distance of Baltimore's Walters Art Museum for they are currently exhibiting Bedazzled : 5000 Years of Jewelry until January 4, 2009. Any one who loves jewelry will surely enjoy oogling at these amazing pieces and be inspired by the talented artisans of long ago. History that's easy on the eyes.

This is your chance to see the one of the most wide ranging private jewelry collections, spanning from 3000 B.C. to the early 20th century. More than 200 pieces from the Henry Walters (1848–1931) collection are on display showing this man's passion for collecting exquisite jewelry from different time periods and cultures. Some of the pieces are so delicate they can never travel like this Chinese Imperial headdress (19th century) adorned with kingfisher feathers, gemstones and pearls.

Jewelry has been tremendously important throughout human history. Today we wear jewelry mainly for adornment, but jewelry was also worn for other reasons - to hold clothes together before buttons, zips and velcro were invented, for protection against evil, to celebrate love and death, and to show off one's status, religious and political affiliations.

The exhibition shows not only changing jewelry fashions through the ages but also design elements which endure. I can't say I am fond of snakes but snakes were the inspiration for this 1st century AD bracelet. Fast forward two thousand years and a serpent still features in modern jewelry like Elizabeth Taylor's gemstone encrusted snake watch bangle.

The exhibition also has this stunning watch chatelaine. I've previously featured chatelaines as bygone jewelry before. They are the fore-runners of women's handbags and perhaps even the Swiss Army knife. Women used to wear them hanging from their belts.

Many of the spectacular rings in the exibition were on special loan from Benjamin Zucker, a New York gemologist and collector. One example is this 17th-18th century Jewish marriage ring -the top hinges open.

It is a wonderful way to spend a bit of your Christmas holiday time if you are lucky enough to be able to go. If you can't be there like me, here is a video about the exhibition :

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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