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Jewelry History

  • A (Really) Brief History of the Brooch

    The original brooches weren’t exactly adornment per se; they served more practical purposes, like securing clothes so they stay put. Early brooches were made of shell, bone, carved stone and wood.

    But brooches evolved, as did most kinds of jewelry. Craftspeople began using higher quality and more precious metals. By the 1400’s, brooches were embedded with gem stones. At this point, brooches served as method to show wealth and status and became less about practical purposes (like keeping your coat closed).

    By the 1940’s and 50’s, smaller “cocktail brooches” were often seen on the stylish lapel of its wearer. By the 70’s, brooches became more fun and reflected pop art of the time.

    Today, brooches bring a touch of sophistication and elegance to even the simplest of outfits.

    We’d love to custom design a brooch design from the heart. A wearable keepsake to pass down to generations.

    Vintage Brooch Faux Pearls and Enamel Flowers.

    Vintage Brooch Faux Pearls and Enamel Flowers.


  • Live insect jewelry – more common than you’d think

    Before you squeal too loudly, understand this: live insect jewelry has been around a long time! The Egyptians were one of the early adopters, wearing scarab beetles into battle. The Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach and the Mexican Maquech Beetle have also been used in jewelry.

    Even during the prim and proper Victorian era in Britain, jewelry lovers often sported large, vividly colored beetles attached to their clothing by tiny gold chains (and yes,  these creepy crawlers were often live).

    So while you might pass on wearing a Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroach to your next night out on the town, remember: you would have been the hit of the party just a few hundred years ago.


    Scarab of Hatnefer, ca. 1492–1473 B.C. Egyptian, New Kingdom Glazed steatite; L. 2.5 cm (1 in.); wW 1.8 cm (11/16 in.); H. 1.1 cm (7/16 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1936 (36.3.5)

    Scarab of Hatnefer, ca. 1473 B.C.
    Egyptian, New Kingdom
    Glazed steatite
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1936 (36.3.5)


  • Ancient Jewelry and the Use of Local Material

    It stands to reason that when it comes to fashion, there’s a practical element. Humans wear clothing and jewelry not simply to look good but to stay warm and protected. In prehistoric times, jewelry was used as a form of protection and adornment. Later, jewelry came to reflect status.

    Jewelry were commonly created from the materials humans had at their disposal. If a tribe of people lived by the ocean, for example, one could surmise that shells, fishbones and colored pebbles would be used to create jewelry.

    Inland ornament material would include matter used from animals that had been killed for food, like antlers, tusks and animal bones.

    Regardless of the material, ancient jewelry provides us a keen insight into the era from which they came, not only the location but the type of humans imprinting their creativity, their expression and their stories.



  • How to Identify Eras of Jewelry

    In general, there are six eras of antique jewelry. Each era has identifiable aspects that help define it and the culture that surrounded it. And as this video points out, each is more gorgeous than the last.

  • How Veterans wear Medals

    Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha. Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Eric

    Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha. Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Eric


    Did you know that since 2006, veterans have been encouraged to wear their hard-earned medals on civilian clothing?


    “The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) encourages all military veterans to wear their medals and decorations during Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and other patriotic holidays as well as formal occasions such as a parade honoring the military, retirement ceremonies, funerals, or weddings.

    “Wear them when you go play golf. Wear them when you go to the store. Let America know that you took that oath and served.”

    Of course, there are rules defining how to wear your medals. According to Army regulations:

    “You can wear either the full-size or miniature-size medals. You should place the medals and decorations in approximately the same location and in the same manner as for the Army uniform, so they look similar to medals worn on the Army uniform.

    We like this more lax rule on medal wearing. People who have served our country deserve to display their service proudly and frequently.

    Remember: thank a veteran you know or meet. It doesn’t need to be Veteran’s Day!

  • What was the fashion in 1776?

    In honor of the 4th of July, we’re taking a step back in time to 1776, the birth year of our country. How did people dress hundreds of years ago? What was the prevailing jewelry style? How uncomfortable were mile-high wigs? (We’re guessing a lot.)

    First, the fashion. According to Wikipedia:

    Women’s clothing styles maintained an emphasis on the conical shape of the torso while the shape of the skirts changed throughout the period. The wide panniers (holding the skirts out at the side) for the most part disappeared by 1780 for all but the most formal court functions, and false rumps (bum-pads or hip-pads) were worn for a time.

    Below: Robe à la Polonaise, France, c. 1775, plain-woven silk with supplementary warp- and weft-float patterning. M.70.85 Shown with quilted plain-woven silk petticoat, England, 1780s.


    But what about the jewelry in colonial America? What were the jewelry trends of this critical year in history?

    According to Lang Antiques, pearls were all the rage. (See? We told you – pearls are always in!)

    Pearls and mother-of-pearl were essential to every woman’s wardrobe. Pearls from the Persian Gulf and the Pacific and Indian Oceans were considered the most desirable and beautiful of gems. Whatever the source however, pearls of all types were found in earrings, necklaces, rings, and brooches just as they are today.

    What about diamonds?

    Trade with India and Brazil during the eighteenth century brought diamonds to Europe and trade with the colonies brought them to America. Rings, earrings, buckles, necklaces, brooches and lockets set with diamonds were sought out by the colonists.

    So there you go: a glimpse into the fashionable jewelry and dress during the birth year of our country. Even 200 years ago, jewelry remained a mainstay in the dress of Americans.



  • The Congressional Medal of Honor – What is it and What’s it Made of?

    During another tumultuous week in the U.S. Congress, we decided to take a breather from the tensions and reflect on something more positive: a medal that honors those Americans who perform exceptionally valorous military duties.

    First, let’s set the record straight on its name. The official title is simply the Medal of Honor, not the Congressional Medal of Honor. (The confusion regarding the name may come from the fact that the president presents the award “in the name of Congress.”)

    There are three versions of the medal, one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Air Force. Each one is created differently. The components are made from gilding metals and red brass alloys with some gold plating, enamel and bronze pieces.

    There was an attempt in 2004 to upgrade the materials (to be 90% gold, which is the same composition as the lesser-known Congressional Gold Medal), but unfortunately, the measure was dropped. Regardless of its simple components, we honor its powerful beauty and more importantly, what it represents.


  • The Perpetual Popularity of Hoop Earrings

    What’s there not to love about hoop earrings? Not only are they fun and flirty, but for the practical jewelry wearer, they’re comfortable and stay put on the ears.

    Hoop earrings have been around for decades, appearing throughout fashion history in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. They reached a popularity apex in the 70’s when they were funky, oversized and fit with all the “mod” outfits of the time.

    Now, you may still see some oversized earrings (we suggest everyone has at least one fun pair) but they also come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, perfect for everyday or evening wear.

    Why not consider a custom design pair of hoop earrings? (We’ve done many in the past.) We also have a sweet selection of high quality earrings waiting to ship to your doorstep.



    Prong set inside out hoop earrings set with round brilliant stones. 2ct t.w. (40-2.4mm) measures approximately 22mm tall 2.50ct t.w. (60-2.2mm) measures approximately 32mm tall.

  • The History and Meaning of Celtic Jewelry

    Practically every culture lays claim to a particular style of jewelry making, with no culture being exactly like another, yet many having distinct similarities. Celtic jewelry possesses its own powerful and mystical beauty, unmistakeable and distinctly its own.

    The origins of this amazing jewelry date back to somewhere between 2000 BC to 550 AD. This is when silver and gold were used by Celtic craftspeople and adorned with Celtic symbols. Silver (commonly associated with the moon) was often used for Celtic torques and bracelets, whereas gold (very rare and precious in those days) was reserved for the wealthiest society members.

    Much could be written about various Celtic symbols, but for sake of ease, let’s focus on the most common:

    Celtic knots or interlaces are one of the instantly recognizable hallmarks of Celtic jewelry. Tracing the line of one thread of most Celtic knots, for example, reveals that the thread is unbroken, returning over and over again to complete its path. The organic form of Celtic knots as revealed in bracelet patterns throughout the centuries symbolizes one’s strong connection to nature and the cosmos.

    [Source: Celtic Culture]

    Incredibly, 25 centuries later (!), this same intricate symbolism can be seen in modern day jewelry. If you’re interested in your own Celtic piece of jewelry, talk to us about your ideas. We’re happy to custom design a piece especially designed for your spirit and personality.


    The Snettisham Hoard Great Torc. The torc is one of the most elaborate golden objects from the ancient world. It is made from gold mixed with silver and weighs over 1 kg. Torcs are made from complex threads of metal, grouped into ropes and twisted around each other. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds and welded onto the metal ropes.


  • The Oldest Jewelry is TINY!

    Neandertal jewelry

    The “necklaces” are tiny: beads of animal teeth, shells, and ivory no more than a centimeter long.

    Isn’t it an amazing feeling to know that jewelry has been worn throughout the history of humankind? Just like us, they felt compelled to adorn (though jewelry was also likely to be worn to protect and ward off evil).

    While there has been much debate regarding the authenticity of these jewelry fragments, proof is now positive: Neanderthals did create jewelry.

    Now, a study uses a new method that relies on ancient proteins to identify and directly date Neandertal bone fragments from Grotte du Renne and finds that the connection between the archaic humans and the artifacts is real. Ross Macphee, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, who has worked with ancient proteins in other studies, calls it “a landmark study” in the burgeoning field of paleoproteomics. And others say it shores up the picture of Neandertals as smart, symbolic humans. [Source: Science Magazine]

    If you’re looking for jewelry from the Neanderthal period, we’d love to custom design it for you…but it’s a little too late!


100 Years in Jewells Business

Today, Joseph Schubach builds upon his family's experience and continues the tradition with Joseph Schubach Jewelers, offering both intimate jewelry brokering in his Scottsdale, Arizona showroom and full-service online sales to clients from around the world, where he has maintained that personal customer connection in the virtual world.

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Call Joe, Margie or Jen for expert help at (888) 724-8222