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Jewels Across the Collection

As I've been looking at the Art Institute's new Pinterest page, I've been inspired to investigate some of my favorite connections across the collection. And what I discovered—no surprise—is that there's nothing that transcends time and continents quite like jewelry. From 1100 B.C. to the early 20th century and from Asia to Africa to Europe to the Americas, humanity's love for ornamentation seemingly knows no bounds. So here's my jewelry-inspired "bulletin board."

We also invite you to head to Pinterest and check out our boards. We're just getting started, so let us know what you think is missing!

In case you were thinking "animal jewelry" is a new trend, think again. This baroque pearl mounted as a cat and mouse was made in the early 1600s.

This 17th century "statement necklace" was probably given by King Pratapamalladeva, ruler of the palace in Kathmandu, to Taleju Bhavani, the celebrated patron goddess  of the old palace. The King may have also worn the collar during ritual dances.

Ahhhh, the buffalo, my favorite animal. Although, considering this is Japanese, this pendant most likely refers to the water buffalo as opposed to the American bison.

A nose ring (or nath) like this one would have been worn to indicate marital status.  The strand coming out of the ring actually attaches to to an earring stud in order to take some of the weight off of the nose.

Isn't it remarkable how contemporary these Moroccan bracelets look? I'm pretty sure I saw something similar at Urban Outfitters last week.

This portrait of Magdalena of Saxony shows her adorned with an ermine collar, a plumed hat, and serious bling on her neck and fingers.

The squash blossom is a very common motif in Navajo jewelry. This one was probably first strung on cord or hide and was later restrung on this silver chain.

Image Credits:

Baroque Pearl Mounted as Cat and Mouse
, Late 16th/Early 17th Century. Spanish or South German. Gift of Marilynn B. Alsdorf.
Necklace Inscribed with the Name of King Pratapamalladeva, c. 1650. Nepal. Gift of the Alsdorf Foundation.
Pendant with Buffalo Head, Western Zhou Period, 11th-10th Century B.C. Chinese. Edward and Louise B. Sonnenschein Fund.
Nose Ring (Nath), Rajasthan, 19th century. Indian. Samuel M. Nickerson Fund.
Bracelets, Tekna, Early 20th Century. Moroccan. Alsdorf Foundation, James and Marilynn Alsdorf Acquisition Fund.
Lucas Cranach the Elder. Portrait of Magdalena of Saxony, Wife of Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg, c. 1529. Gift of Kate S. Buckingham.
Squash-Blossom Necklace, c. 1915. Navajo. Mrs. Leonard Florsheim Fund; O. Renard Goltra Endowment.