Jewellery and Japanese culture: past and present
Japanese culture possesses a millenary legacy in jewellery, where the light and colours take on more prominence than ever.
Jewellery forms part of the artistic history of several civilisations across the world, and among them also features Japanese culture. The history of jewellery in Japanese culture is millenary. Nevertheless, the role of jewellery in the history of this country is little known in the western world, compared to other civilisations. In this article we take a short journey through the history of Japanese jewellery and its role as a source of inspiration for signature jewellery.
We find the beginnings of jewellery in Japan in the Jomon period, several centuries before Christ. Archaeology shows that even in that time necklaces, earrings and bracelets were made. The first examples of Japanese jewelry were made with different materials, such as stones, wood and animal bones. Later, they began to use precious materials, such as shellac, agate or amber, very rare materials on the oriental island. These early examples were usually dyed with bright colours, such as red, green and blue. The use of colours aroused the interest in gold and silver. From the 7th century gold mines began to be exploited on the island, a material unknown until then.
The Chinese influence on Japanese jewellery
Jewellery experienced a period of little influence in Japanese culture during its Buddhist stage. Between the 6th and 8th centuries, Japan began its commercial opening, with a strong influence of Buddhism from South Korea. During this period new techniques in jewellery advanced, such as glass as the main raw material. Nevertheless, its use among the population dropped. And it dropped even more as from the 10th century. In this period the Japanese nobility stopped using jewellery, with the exception of the sensu (the typical Japanese fans) to differentiate themselves from the Chinese influence, very much linked to ornamentation.
The Edo period: the rebirth of Japanese jewellery
After some turbulent centuries, and with the arrival of western trade, Japan identifies the Edo period (from the 17th to 19th centuries) as the renaissance time for Japanese jewellery. Recurring trade with Europe resulted in the western influence on Japanese jewellery. During this period, Japanese jewellery had a main function: the adornment of female horses, mares. A greater richness began to be offered in jewellers’ designs and very valuable raw materials were used, such as gold, silver, coral, marble or amber.
Later on, at the end of the 19th century what was called “modern Japanese jewellery” appeared. Other precious pieces were introduced, such as diamonds, and the range of products was widened: they began to create rings, bracelets and necklaces. During this period, Japanese jewellery took on a more western air, but continued containing distinctive traits that inspired numerous jewellery collections around the world.
Samurai, Sakura, Maiko and Kyoto, the four Japanese-inspired collections of Majoral
And it is precisely these distinctive traits of Japanese jewellery that have inspired us for the creation of unique collections. Among them, at Majoral we have the Samurai, Sakura, Maiko and Kyoto collections, created from the essence of Japanese culture.
Samurai: a delicate and elegant Japanese pattern
Firstly, we have the Samurai collection, where delicate scales compose a Japanese pattern. Its rounded form recalls the medieval Japanese era, or the parasol of the traditional Japanese geishas. The Samurai collection is made with grey, semi-oxidised metal finishes, and matte gold, which gives austerity and elegance to the piece. Samurai is a delicate and elegant collection inspired by Japanese culture.
Maiko: the collection that takes us to the most hidden corner of Japan
Maiko is another Majoral collection inspired by Japanese jewellery and culture. Created with RJC recycled gold, Maiko produces oriental edging through metallic folds that make plays of light over the skin. Its design also evokes the form of the Japanese sensu. A piece of jewellery inspired by the kabuki Japanese theatre style, which aims to join the essence of the most hidden corner of Japan with the delicacy of an elegant item of jewellery.
Sakura: one of the symbols of Japanese culture made into jewellery
We also have the Sakura collection, () an authentic homage to the most radiant side of Japanese culture. The Sakura (cherry in Japanese) is a symbol of the transitory nature of life, reflection and the joy of living. And at Majoral we have wanted to pass on this Japanese song to life in a collection full of brightness, colour and joy. The vitality of the cherry petals transmits to us an everlasting jewel, but also simplicity, beauty and harmony with nature.
Kyoto: a connection with the wild nature of Japan
Finally, of note is Kyoto, a collection that emulates the Japanese gardens. The Kyoto collection has a minimalist spirit and wants to be a symbol of cultural connection with wild nature.