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Bringing Jewellery To The High Street

09 May 2008

From the dawn of mankind…

Jewellery is one of the earliest forms of body adornment. Recently discovered beads made of mollusc shells dating back to 100,000 years to the Middle Stone Age are thought to be the oldest known items of jewellery. The first jewellery was made from natural materials — animal teeth, shells, wood and bones — and was used practically to pin clothes together. Jewellery then became a symbol of wealth and status, associated mainly with the very rich and the monarchy, as well as a protection against evil, harm and illness. In recent years, however, jewellery has been primarily used for decoration.

Prolific jewellery-making started over 40,000 years ago with the Cro-Magnons, ancestors of the Homo Sapiens, when they migrated to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. They made crude necklaces and bracelets from natural materials strung on a piece of twine or animal sinew. Metalwork in jewellery began 7,000 years ago with copper being forged into jewellery.

From earrings to rings, jewellery has been used to decorate every part of the body and every culture has had its own jewellery traditions. Most ancient civilisations attributed powers and symbolism to birthstones.

The ancient Egyptians favoured the luxury of gold jewellery, while the Chinese of 5000 years ago preferred silver jewellery, adorned with a blue gemstone. India was the first country to mine diamonds with the first mines going back to 296 BC. By 300 BC the Greeks had mastered the art of coloured jewellery using emeralds, amethysts and pearls.

…to the jewellery on the high street.

Today, jewellery is not restricted to the wealthy and is now accessible to everyone. High street jeweller H.Samuel began life in 1862 when Harriet Samuel took over her father's clock-making business in Liverpool. She moved the business to Manchester's Market Street and focused on the mail order side while her sons developed the retail area. The first H.Samuel retail store was opened in Preston in 1890, closely followed by jewellery stores throughout Lancashire.

Now firmly established as H.Samuel the Jeweller with 400 jewellery stores nationwide, the company brings jewellery inspired by the designs and traditions of all cultures to the high street. The H.Samuel website, , launched in 2005 and, with its huge range of jewellery, diamonds and watches, has brought the high street jeweller to the home.

Find out more about the history of H.Samuel the Jeweller.