Techniques for Making Egyptian Jewelry

Ever since the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb, people have been fascinated with Egyptian culture and jewellery.

Because the ancient Egyptians made no distinction between amulets and jewellery worn for decorative purposes, there are many fine examples of Egyptian jewellery that were buried with the dead and have survived to this day. These pieces can serve as inspiration for making your own Egyptian-style jewellery.

Selecting Jewelry Pieces to Make

Egyptian jewellers created a wider variety of jewellery than perhaps any culture since. Jewellery worn by the ancient Egyptians blurred the line between decorative ornamentation and everyday use. And although ancient jewellers were limited in their ability to work with gems, their access to precious metals and glassmaking technology allowed them to stretch their creativity in other ways. Jewellery forms that were common to the ancient Egyptians, and that you can choose to recreate, included wide necklaces called collars, beaded headdresses, pendants, bracelets, anklets, thick necklaces called pectorals, earrings and rings.

Use Beads

Almost all Egyptian jewellery was beaded. The ancient Egyptians preferred glass beads over gemstones in their jewellery. This is because glass was easier for jewellers of the ancient world to work with than stones that had to be cut and polished. Ancient Egyptian beads included faience beads, dichroic glass, fused glass and lampwork. For an authentic Egyptian look you can string beads on silver, gold or cotton thread or inset them into a larger piece. Gold wire is a good choice for stringing your beads because gold was considered the skin of the gods and was used by anyone who could afford it. The colours of the beads used in Egyptian jewellery held meaning. For example, lapiz lazuli was associated with joy, while green jasper represented rain and the green crops that it would nourish. Gold was connected to the sun.

Incorporate Talismans

Egyptian jewellery frequently contained talismans carved with symbols that protected the wearer throughout his life and into the next world. Some other powerful Egyptian symbols included the Eye of Horus, which symbolised eternity, and the scarab, which represented renewal. For an Egyptian look, add talismans such as the ankh to your beaded pieces.