More Nuggets of Jewellery Trivia

We're back with ten more of our ever-popular nuggets of jewellery trivia. Some of these are pure gold!

1. Behold the gold!

Tutankhamun's Mask is made of two gold alloys to create the different shades needed to highlight the face and neck. One alloy is 22.5K gold, and the other 18.4k. The mask measures 54cm high, by 39cm wide, by 49cm deep and weighs in at a smidge over 10kg!

2. Old News? Did you know that gold never tarnishes? OK, you probably did, but we also know it can certainly get a bit grubby with everyday wear. The mummy of Egyptian King Tutankhamun had been wearing his gold mask for more than 3200 years when it was found by Howard Carter in 1925, but it was still perfectly gleaming and untarnished.

Why don't Pharaohs need doorbells? Because they just "Toot an' come in"!

3. But there's jewellery older than that!

The oldest jewellery known is tiny snail shells that were possibly strung onto animal sinews for jewellery purposes as far back as 100,000 years!

4. A silver bullet?

Silver has been used by humans for at least 4000 years, and it's long been thought to ward off evil and paranormal presences. Could this have anything to do with its reflective moonlike shimmer? The only thing known to defeat a werewolf – famed for being ruled by the moon – is for the creature to be shot with a silver bullet.

How did people manage before guns were invented? Hmmm, maybe a silver tipped arrow, or perhaps ....

5. While we're 'brooching' the subject of werewolves...

It's probably not practical (and certainly not legal!) to go firing silver bullets or arrows at anything nowadays, so if you fear that strange howling in the middle of the night you might be better off sharpening that silver brooch pin!

Did you know that brooches were originally a purely practical accessory, and not at all decorative like our snail shell necklaces and gold masks. The first brooches were often crafted from chips of flint or long thorns and were used to hold clothing together. It wasn't until the first use of metal in the bronze age that metal pins were crafted for the same purpose. Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Byzantines were the first to make their brooches decorative, then eventually over the centuries they became a fashion statement in their own right. Do you love brooches? We have a few on sale here.

6. A most eggcelent decoration!

Speaking of purely decorative jewellery pieces, the very first Fabergé egg was created as a gift from Tsar Alexander III to his wife, the Empress Maria in 1885. Just like the Russian Babushka dolls, this egg had hidden elements that were revealed as each layer was opened. The egg was predominantly gold with the outer shell enamelled in white. Inside was a matt gold 'yolk' which could be opened to reveal a golden hen, which in turn could be opened to reveal a miniature of the Imperial Crown (lost in the spoils of the revolution). Maria was so delighted she commissioned another egg for the following Easter, and so began the Fabergé Easter Egg tradition.

7. Who had the biggest gold collection?

Legend has it that King Croesus of the ancient Lydian empire, who ruled from 560-546BCE, had the largest collection of gold ever known. Upon inheriting the throne from his father, Croesus was forced into war with neighbouring Greeks and Persians, defeating each and exacting huge tolls in gold and treasure.

8. Coining the Phrase

King Croesus is thought by scholars to have been the richest man of his time, coining the phrase "as rich as Croesus".

On the subject of coins, King Croesus is also credited with minting the first gold coins standardised for trade. The coins were oblong in shape and featured a battling bull and lion on one side, and were made of electrum – a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. These nuggets of electrum were found along the riverbed or the River Pactolus, which flowed right through the capital city of Lydia.

9. A little nugget of information

We have no small number of gold nuggets right here in Australia too, but the "Welcome Stranger" is no small nugget! Found by John Deason in Victoria in 1869, the Welcome Stranger gold nugget weighed an astounding 78kg – as heavy as a full grown adult! Unfortunately you won't see this huge nugget on display anywhere. The Welcome Stranger was so big it had to be broken with a hammer to fit on the bank's scales! Valued back then at £10,000, a nugget that size has the equivalent value today of $3-4 million. Oh to be that lucky!

10. One final weighty fact

5kg of diamonds are found each day on earth. That's 274,000 carats!

For more trivia and fun jewellery facts, see our related articles below.

Image Attributions:

First Fabergé Egg: By Михаил Овчинников [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Next week: "Spring Racing Carnival Fashion on the Fields"

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