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The Bronze Age, named after the alloy that characterized the era, saw great advancements in metal-smithing. Jewelry makes achieved new heights in working bronze, copper and gold to create beautiful and intricate jewelry designs that still resonate.
While the Bronze Age refers to a very long period and covered most of the world, we can pick out some common factors in the jewelry designs and styles of the time. Let’s take a closer look
*Note that this article isn’t about bronze jewelry but about jewelry from the Bronze Age. If you want to learn about bronze jewelry, check our detailed article here.
What is the Bronze Age?
The Bronze Age, which extended from around 3000 B.C.E to 1200 B.C.E., is named after the first alloy to ever be created, the metal that characterized an era – bronze. No one knowns exactly where it was created, but the general consensus is that bronze originated in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). Around the same time, we see bronze making an appearance in India too.
The Bronze Age is roughly split into 3 main eras – Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age and Lage Bronze Age.
So important was the discovery of bronze that it revolutionized human life in terms of warfare, construction, industry, art and fashion. Before this period, humans worked primarily with stone, wood and copper.
By alloying copper with tin, humans were able to create a much harder and more durable metal that could be used in a number of different ways, like never before. Bronze was affordable, malleable and yet extremely durable. It was so versatile and its discovery so significant that it characterized an era.
But while bronze was the most important metal of the time, other metals like silver, gold and copper were also used. The techniques of metal-smithing improved during this era and metal work in general advanced.
Types of Bronze Age Jewelry
Because bronze was the trending metal of the time, it naturally became a part of the fashion world as well, although other metals, like gold and silver, were also commonly used. All these metals could be used in a number of ways to create exotic jewelry designs.
Some of the most popular types of jewelry during the Bronze Age are:
Detailed torc necklace by Pera Peris. Check price here.
Probably the most defining type of jewelry from the Bronze Age, torc necklaces came in a wide range of designs and styles. These were made by twisting, looping and texturing metal to create designs that would look right at home in today’s fashion scene.
Torcs first appeared during the Bronze Age and consists of a single loop of metal twisted into a horseshoe shape with one open end. This was commonly worn as necklaces, bracelets, arm jewelry and even around the waist like a belt.
Torc (also torque) was considered extremely fashionable and is typically associated with Vikings and Celts.
Hammered copper gorget by Ogmios Forge. Check price here.
Gorgets were larger, more noticeable jewelry designs worn like a collar against the neck. These were stylish and sophisticated pieces of jewelry that became the focal point of your ensemble. Gorgets could be open at the back, like a torc, or be completely circular with a hinged opening at the back. Even today, gorgets are available in different styles, especially as bib necklaces.
Bangles and Cuffs
Twisted copper bracelet by Copper Mill Designs. Check price here.
Bangles and cuffs featuring were very popular featuring metal fashioned into a complete circle or a penannular style. These were typically twisted, hammered and forged into shape in a variety of textures and designs.
Can You Find Bronze Age Jewelry Today?
It’s virtually impossible to find authentic Bronze Age jewelry today except in museums. However, you can find replicas or modern jewelry items inspired by the Bronze Age designs.
Even this can be limiting and difficult to find. Your best bet is to look for torc style necklaces, bib necklaces, cuffs and bangles made of rustic metal and with few or no gemstones. These types of jewelry have a Bronze Age feel to them.
Today’s bronze jewelry is varied and stunning, with filigree and elements that elevate them. Bronze’s patina gives it additional texture and color and makes even a simple piece a work of art.
If you want to learn more about the metal bronze, read our article here.