What did the Suffragettes & the Egyptian have in common?!
Peridot for August...
Peridot has been a sought after gem for thousands of years. It was used in the sumptuous treasures worn by Ancient Egyptian Kings & Queens, it was used by the women of the Suffragette Movement in 1903, and it is used in contemporary jewellery today.
During the time of the Suffragettes they used 3 colours to symbolise their fight for equality for woman; Green, White & Violet. These colours reminded everyone of their mission: Give Women the Vote, and were embodied by the gemstones Peridot (green), Pearls (white) & Amethyst (Violet).
The Ancient Egyptians mined for ion the islands of the Red Sea, and called it "the gem of the sun" due to it's sunny yellow undertones. It certainly does have a bright and lively feel to it!
The links between Peridot and Egypt were strengthened again in recent history when the discovery of King Tutenkhamun's tomb in 1922 sparked a renewed interest in Egyptian culture. Egyptian revival jewellery became an overnight success, and remained extremely popular throughout the 1920's and 30's.
Jewellery with Egyptian motifs such as lotus flowers, scarab beetles & the wings of the Goddess Isis were to be seen on rings, pendants and cuff bangles.
The minimal geometric shapes and clean lines of Art Deco we know and love today were very much influenced the by Egyptian visual language of hieroglyphs, symbols and stylised flora & fauna.
This Art Deco revival brooch by Henri Picq has the simplified form of Egyptian lotus flowers set in Diamonds.
And these Art deco drop earrings are again typical in their pastiche of Egyptian motif. Their use of materials such as Lapis lazuli, Emeralds and Onyx copies mimics those used in traditional Egyptian jewellery, and their use of asbtract geometric shapes that not to those seen on the sarcophogi of ancient Pharoahs.
According to the Gemmological Institute of America many historians believe that Cleopatra's infamous "Emerald" collection was not Emerald at all but the Egyptians beloved Peridot?!
So in answer, the original question, "what did the Suffragettes & the Egyptian have in common"?! Not only that they both shared a love of Peridot, there's more to it than that! It's not just their use of jewellery but what that jewellery meant that's important.
The Egyptians worshipped Horus, often represented by the symbol of falcon's wings. It may look simple to us today but that symbol represented the sun, God, happiness, royalty, divinity, even life itself!
Symbolism was so ingrained in the culture that in their holiest of places very little scripture was to be found years later, but Symbols, glyphs & deities spoke a thousand words.
The Suffragettes success in gaining control over so many aspects of women's rights was not just down to bare grit- it was the result of a clever marketing scheme comprised a set of colours that symbolised their cause.. the colours green white and violet (Give Women the Vote). The Suffragettes used specific jewelry items as talismans to display their loyalty to he women's rights movement. T
What did the Egyptians and the Suffragettes have in common? They understood the deep and undeniable, primitive power of symbolism.