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History of the Jewellery Box

jewellery box history

What is a Jewellery Box?

Jewellery boxes have taken on many forms and guises since their first conception in ancient Egypt, but traditionally speaking any receptacle whose purpose is to contain jewellery and precious items associated with jewellery can be considered a jewellery box. No matter which term you use; jewellery box, jewellery casket or trinket box- all have the same use, and only differ depending on perception of size and age.

Storing Jewellery

Jewellery storage has always been incredibly important to jewellery lovers- from the earliest incarnations which were more akin to treasure chests; jewellery storage was primarily for the safekeeping of expensive items rather than for sustaining the quality of pieces.

Storing jewellery is contemporarily based in keeping jewellery compartmentalised and maintaining order, rather than safety and protection of the pieces. It is rare for modern jewellery boxes to feature a lock mechanism or any form of security feature, as they are usually stored within secure homes in the present day.

However, the method of storing jewellery that you choose is important when buying and collecting antique and vintage jewellery – particularly if your jewellery features gemstones. Although some stones are unaffected, there are some gemstones, such as amethyst, jadeite, quartz and opals, which should not be stored or frequently exposed to direct sunlight and heat.

For owners of these stones, jewellery boxes provide an attractive way to maintain the quality of their jewellery whilst also being used for general storage. In short- the more precious your jewellery is- the more necessary a jewellery box is.

Jewellery Box History

Originally, jewellery boxes were more similar to treasure chests, hence the term ‘jewellery casket’ being interchangeable with ‘jewellery box’. The term jewellery casket is usually used when referring to a larger box, which would be considered slightly smaller than a chest, and usually raised on feet, rather than the base being flat to the surface which it rests on.

Jewellery boxes were in common use as early as 5000 BC in Ancient Egypt as the majority of Egyptians, male and female, wore jewellery. The Egyptians preferred material was gold, often encrusted with precious gems and as such, a secure, yet often well decorated box or casket was required to keep such items safe.

In Rome, jewellery was a status symbol, with only certain ranks permitted to wear rings for example. Fine brooches were used to secure items of clothing, and again, jewellery boxes were required for storage purpose.

Until the Victorian era, owning jewellery was a rare luxury, and to have enough jewellery to need storage for it was a privilege bestowed upon only a few members of royalty and high society.

Fine jewellery became more affordable to the mass market after the industrial revolution, due to the reduction in cost once machine cutting of stones and metal was possible. Jewellery boxes and caskets therefore became smaller, due to the necessity for more middle class families to have in their homes, while only containing very few pieces of jewellery.

Trinket boxes were also common in Victorian households full of collectables and pieces of interest. These were much smaller than traditional jewellery boxes, accommodating smaller items such as rings- and much fewer of them than is typical today.

Jewellery boxes, jewellery caskets and trinket boxes have all varied widely in their appearance over history. Ornate styles with elaborate detail were initially common, indicating outwardly the value of the items inside.

At the turn of the 20th century, novelty jewellery boxes enjoyed popularity. This was due to the Victorian’s interest in filling their homes with decorative items of interest and intrigue, rather than simply owning that which was practical and absolutely necessary for daily life.

Novelty boxes were created to look as though they are a statue or are in the form of something else- such as an Edwardian jewellery box created in the form of a miniature 18th century card table.

The variety of styles and sizes of antique silver jewellery boxes mean that any taste can be catered to- everything from minimal clean lines or ornate floral decoration are available on our site, depending on the personal taste of the owner and their home décor. Antique and vintage jewellery boxes are timeless gifts that take pride of place in any home, and that are appreciated by all jewellery lovers and collectors.

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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