Jewelry Box Magic - Beautiful Jewelry Boxes from Around the World - Odd Nugget


What's in your box?

Woah, nelly... Let's slow down, reverse, put this thing back in drive and rephrase that...

What's in your JEWELRY box?

If your answer is jewelry, then please pat yourself on the back. If your answer is hope and a Skittles wrapper, please leave this place and never come back. (No, no, you can stay!)

Skittles wrapper in a jewelry box

Jewelry boxes have a long and storied history. In fact, it's such a long and such a storied history that I'll only sorta be covering some of it in this article.

Read on if you like pretty pictures, bad jokes and a dash of history with your ice...

Where the First Jewelry Box Was Made

coconut jewelry box with dinosaur in background

The world's first jewelry box may have been a coconut.

Alright, alright, I'm joking (kinda).

After poring through countless pages of "history of jewelry" books and random websites, the best I could come up with for the possible "birth of the jewelry box" was ancient Mesopotamia.

The Mesopotamians of old (over 4,000BCE) were surprisingly fond of their jewelry. Apparently, most of the population adorned themselves with various precious metals and stones, all of which were carefully worked into such fashionable pieces as anklets, ribbons, headpieces and more.

Mesopotamian jewelry

mesopotamian jewelry

Whether or not they actually used jewelry boxes is difficult to say, but they used ALOT of jewelry and produced at least one famously decorated box - the Standard of Ur. This fascinating box was ornately inlaid with shell and lapis lazuli, depicting scenes of war and peace in vivid detail.

Standard of Ur peace panel

No one knows what the Standard of Ur was actually used for. Excavators who discovered it mentioned some dead guy having been sacrificed and buried with the thing.

Fat chance he'll tell us what happened way back then, though.

Are Jewelry Boxes for Women Only?

Woman drowning in jewelry

Rest assured jewelry boxes are fit for far more than m'lady...

Keeping jewelry clean is a must for pretty much anyone who has any fine wearables worth keeping at all.

That goes for guys just as much as gals. So don't give me any funny looks for opening my pretty, poofy princess jewelry drawer/musicbox! (I kinda wish I had something like that, actually.)

very girly jewelry box for guys

Protecting your jewelry is also a must if you have anything worth enough to make you wince at bumping it on tables.

Jewelry boxes are built to protec, respec and reflec. Useful for everyone? CHEC!

A fine jewelry box can not only protect and preserve your precious pieces of body decor, but also display them proudly. The nicest jewelry boxes would make your jewelry collection glitter like bright, shiny candy for your pupils to get sick on.

pupils puking at sight of jewels

Travel cases for your jewelry are worth getting too, especially if you've got something valuable you'd prefer to hold its value after flying to Timbuktu and back.

Modern Jewelry Boxes

umbra tuck jewelry box

Umbra Tuck Jewelry Box

Modern jewelry boxes have taken on a decidedly functional form. No fuss. None too posh. And definitely not ornate.

These jewelry boxes do what they were meant to do, but they don't quite catch the eye like loot boxes of old. Call it minimalism or what have you...

Hulbert jewelry box

Hulbert jewelry box

Thankfully, if you go looking for the crazy stuff, there's always SOMEBODY making it - jewelry boxes are no exception. Fantasy jewelry box themes have taken every path that comes to mind, from pirate-age revivalist to space commander futurist and midways as well.

This one looks like it fell from the sky. Into a volcano. And was chiselled by a postmodernist lunatic with space-age trinkets to un-clutter.

aria black travertine jewelry box

Aria Black Travertine Box

Or maybe you'd prefer to seal your jewels inside lesser jewels. This crystal casket should do the trick...

celeste quartz jewelry box

celeste quartz boxes

There's a LOT to choose from...

WOLF Caroline jewelry box

WOLF Caroline Extra Large Jewelry Case

floral delight leather jewelry box

Floral Delight Leather Jewelry box

lacquer jewelry box

Lacquer Jewelry Box

resin shagreen jewelry box


Bey-Berk Wood jewelry box

Bey-Berk Wood jewelry box

ross simons wooden jewelry box

ross simons wooden jewelry box

For the hopeless Game of Thrones fanboys out there (the jewelry-owning kind)...

Mother of Dragons jewelry box

Mother of Dragons Jewelry Box

mother of pearl inlaid jewelry box

Nacre Mother of Pearl Inlaid Jewelry Box

Steampunkians everywhere take note...

steampunk jewelry box

Steampunk box Wooden box with compartments Men's jewelry box

Apparently, Walmart wanted in on the (nonexistant) cosplay jewelry storage craze. This cheap-o box would make ol' cap'n Jack do sommersaults in his grave.

shameless walmart pirate jewelry box

Shameless Walmart Pirate Jewelry Box

And for non-cheap-o's, the following may suffice...

arcadia home jewelry box

Arcadia Home Jewelry Box

Marrakesh Flat jewelry box

Marrakesh Flat Jewelry Box

Oh, and for some reason, this velvet box costs $975...

Beauvais Velvet jewelry box

Beauvais Velvet jewelry box

Jewelry Boxes From the 20th Century

Painted Decorated Anglo Indian jewelry box

Painted Decorated Anglo Indian jewelry box

The 20th century bore witness to wide-ranging design affectations in the world of jewelry-boxery. I think that's a word (or it should be), so it stays.

Many designs channel a surprising longing for natural materials and looks. At least, they're surprising given the industrial essence of the era.

Fair warning, the prices on these will knock your soft, goldtip socks off...

tribal orange jewelry box

Tribal Orange Jewelry Chest

French 20th Century Carved jewelry box

French 20th Century Carved Jewelry Box

Golden Art Nouveau jewelry box

Golden Art Nouveau Jewelry Box

Japanese Lacquer jewelry box

Japanese Lacquer Box

Jewelry Boxes From the 19th Century

Judging by how many 19th century "vintage" and "antique" jewelry boxes I found (against my will) on Pinterest, I'll go out on a limb and guess at this era being the most prolific for intrepid "makers of the box".

There are endless examples - all of them ornate to the point of opulence and highly valuable of their own accord. It wouldn't surprise me if these boxes proved to be pricier than the jewelry they actually held when they were first sold.

Even today, a few of these continue to command prices that put the inflated housing market to shame. Supply and demand and all that...

Antique Art Nouveau Bronze jewelry box

Antique Art Nouveau Bronze Box

French Louis XV jewelry box

French Louis XV Jewelry Box

1950s Brass jewelry box

1950s Brass Jewelry Casket

german gilt bronze and porcelain jewelry box

german gilt bronze and porcelain jewelry box

French Silver Plated Copper jewelry box

French Silver Plated Copper Jewelry Box

Art Nouveau German Bronze jewelry box

Art Nouveau German Bronze Casket

gilt bronze jewelry box

Gilt Bronze Box

Leave it to the Russians to create something this gorgeous...

Russian Lapis jewelry box

Russian Lapis Jewelry Box

Last, but certainly not least expensive...

ebonized jewelry box

ebonized jewelry box

Ancient (or Just Really Old) Jewelry Boxes

bone and parquetry inlaid jewelry box

bone and parquetry inlaid domed casket

Truly ancient jewelry boxes (as in bonk-food-on-head-with-club ancient) were probably fragile enough to succumb to the elements over time - leaving us future-dwellers with nothing to salvage from our predecessors. So, in the spirit of half-heartedness, I've gathered some 16th century examples for you to gawk at instead.

Oh and a few very, very antique antiques to satisfy the whole "Ancient" example challenge a bit better.

Casket with the Three Theological Virtues

Casket with the Three Theological Virtues

The $45,000 price tag on this next one implies there's a human soul locked inside...

Damascened Steel and Gold jewelry box

Damascened Steel and Gold Box

Regency Jewelry Dressing Sewing Box

Regency Jewelry Dressing Sewing Box

Another price tag for the history books (over $20k)...

tuscany carved and gilded wood jewelry box

tuscany carved and gilded wood box

Chinese lacquer boxes count too, right? This one's purpose is a bit more ambiguous than the ones mentioned above.

Chinese Mother of Pearl Lacquer Box jewelry box

Chinese Mother of Pearl Lacquer Box with Peony Decor

I dug around a bit for some insight into what the Chinese used these special boxes for and the short answer appears to be, well, everything. Also, Chinese lacquerware is pretty incredible stuff - some exceptional pieces are over 2,000 years old!

I'm not entirely sure this next box ever held jewelry, per se... Maybe a human heart or the wrath of the gods, perhaps?

Ivory Casket Dated 355 AH

Ivory Casket Dated 355 AH

Dated at year 966, this is definitely the OG of jewelry boxes covered in this article. Pretty hard to beat.

This last one is legit, though...

pharaoh dank glasses and blingage

Ok, fine. I may have edited that last one a bit. All I'm saying is pharoahs went out in style, ok?

I mean, buried with jewelry, jars of your own internal organs and a bunch of your servants for all eternity? Where do I sign?

Read about boat races in the 1850s next.

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