The Bling Episode

Ancient Egyptian jewelry – pictures galore!

Okay, so for today I thought we’d take a hard left turn and talk a bit about Ancient Egyptian jewelry. Yah!

Of course I’ll be focusing on Middle Kingdom styles, since this is the setting for my story, but I have some interesting examples from the New Kingdom that I will throw in, too.

One of the things you need to know about to understand Ancient Egyptian jewelry is that it’s not all gold. I know the movies have shown you people walking around wearing solid plates of gold as necklaces (we’ve talked about this before – that’s a purely New Kingdom style), but that wasn’t generally the case, especially in the Middle Kingdom, which is known for more delicate filigree-type work and beading.

One of the most common materials used in Middle Kingdom jewelry is something called Egyptian faience. Faience is a ceramic made from melted sand or crushed quartz which develops a bright color and shiny finish during the firing process. It’s believed that the Egyptians used this as a replacement for the more difficult-to-get gemstones and glass.

So, are you ready? It’s time for the pictures!

Broad Collars and Necklaces

The style you probably think of when you think about an Ancient Egyptian Necklace is actually called a broad collar. They look like this:

These are all Middle Kingdom styles. As you can see – lots of beadwork!

Below are two examples of New Kingdom styles that may be more like what you are used to seeing in the movies.

Now, what we see less of in movies are straight-up necklaces. But, they had these too. We have lots of Middle Kingdom examples.

We have a comparatively large jewelry collection from Princess Sithathoriunet, who appears in my story. Some boxes of her jewelry and cosmetic items were left undisturbed by grave robbers for centuries. You can see a stunning example of Middle Kingdom gold and beadwork in her pectoral-style necklace, below.

Image courtesy of The Met

Bracelets and Anklets

Bracelets and anklets were commonly worn throughout Egypt, and in the Middle Kingdom had a similar beading style to what you have already seen above.

And, for reference, here’s some New Kingdom styles below. As usual, much more bling-y.


Surprisingly, Ancient Egyptian earrings are comparatively understated. Here’s a New Kingdom example.

Gold earrings. Image courtesy of The Met

But, the jewelry of Princess Sithathoriunet has a little bit more to teach us about Ancient Egyptian headgear during the Middle Kingdom. Check out her wig rings.

Gold wig rings. Image courtesy of The Met

And, the coup de grâce, her pretty amazing crown.

Image courtesy of

I hope you enjoyed this super-blingy entry of my blog! I have upcoming entries planned along similar lines, including makeup, hair, and fashion. I hope you’ll join me!

(Do you have any questions you want me to answer? Topics you want me to cover? Comment below, and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @headdeskliz .)

Published by headdeskliz

Elizabeth Jacobson is the author of Not by Sight: a novel of the patriarchs. She lives and teaches in sunny California and loves fantasy, science fiction, and historically-based Christian fiction. She has multiple other titles in the works.

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