Egyptian Jewellery

The Ancient Egyptians exhibited a love of ornament and personal decoration from earliest Predynastic times.

Pectoral of Horus with sundisk, c. 1325 BC, gold with gemstones. Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

Bead aprons are first attested in the 1st Dynasty, while usekh broad collars became a standard type from the early Old Kingdom. In the Middle Kingdom, they had fallen from favour, to be replaced by finger-rings and ear ornaments. New Kingdom jewelry is generally more elaborate and garish than that of earlier periods, and was influenced by styles from the Ancient Greece and the Levant.

Jewellery, both royal and private, was replete with religious symbolism. It was also used to display the wealth and rank of the wearer. Royal jewels were always the most elaborate.


Pectorals were attached with a necklace and meant to be suspended from the neck but to lie upon the breast.

A later form was attached as a brooch, with the thematic, iconographic function and statement outweighing its actual use as a piece of jewellery for adornment.

Usekh Collar

Usekh collars were a type of broad collar or necklace. It was wrapped around and supported by the neck and shoulders. It is typically adorned with closely placed rows of colored stone beads, or it is made entirely of metal. The collars were connected with clasps of gold.

Usekh collar of Senebtisi, c. 1850–1775 BC, faience, gold, carnelian and turquoise. Metropolitan Museum of Art.



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