tooth jewelry

8000 years of Great Tooth Jewelry

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    People sometimes don’t know what to do to stand out because of the craziness. In the past, a beautiful necklace or a striking pair of earrings was enough to be ‘the talk of the town’. Today it has to get crazier. And influencers and VIPs do their best to stand out by being the first to introduce a new trend in tooth jewelry

    I actually noticed this when I came across an article that said that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones had gemstones put on or in his teeth. And the story goes that this first one was a sapphire, his birthstone, but it didn’t stand out enough.

    Then he had the sapphire converted into a ruby. But then everyone started pointing out the ‘blood stain’ on his tooth… the ruby. It didn’t have to be that striking, and the current diamond seems to suffice.

    While searching I also found articles in which Rihanna, Kate Perry, and Hailey Bieber were spotted with tooth jewelry. What is this new trend? And do we all have to do that?

    Rihanna's tooth jewelry
    Rihanna’s tooth jewelry
    Hailey Bieber with tooth jewelry
    Hailey Bieber with tooth jewelry

    During my research, I came across examples from centuries ago, where people also had their teeth decorated with gemstones. So nothing new under the sun, but still, what about now?

    Tooth jewelry found in a Stone Age city

    Here we are not talking about gemstones that were placed in the human tooth or teeth but about jewelry made from human teeth.

    In what is believed to be the first city on Earth, in Çatalhöyük/Southern Turkey, someone walked around with a pendant made from a human tooth between 6700 and 6300 BC. Actually, at least 3 people have owned such a piece of jewelry, because 3 examples of human tooth jewelry have been found.

    In Çatalhöyük there was a society in which most people were equal to each other, with no slavery, etc, so and at its peak there lived 8000 people, who were buried within the boundaries of the city when they died. A pendant was found in such a grave and the other two in the ‘city’.

    It is assumed that the teeth belonged to somewhat older people. Holes were drilled at the top of the prongs to thread a string through so they could be worn as pendants. And drilling holes was not so easy, because tooth ivory is a difficult material to work with, especially with primitive tools.

    Maori tooth jewelry necklace is made of fiber and human teeth of different persons. The 'stand-alone' tooth belonged to a lady.
    Maori tooth jewelry necklace is made of fiber and human teeth of different persons. The ‘stand-alone’ tooth belonged to a lady.

    Maori tooth jewelry

    Before we go to the examples where the gemstones were placed in the teeth as a form of tooth jewelry, let me first give an example of tooth jewelry where human teeth were used to make a necklace.

    In 1937 it turned out that a necklace (maukaki) was made from 10 human teeth in a private collection in Auckland/New Zealand. The teeth did not come from the same person and it is believed that the necklace was made to honor deceased persons.

    The cord was made of a very good quality fiber and the prongs were attached to the cord with a ring through a hole in the prong. There was a set of 3 that came from an older man, and six other teeth belonged to someone else, but also a man.

    And the last tooth belonged to a woman and was attached to the chain separately (not in a group). And the necklace was found wrapped in human hair and together in a paua shell that served as a box.
    As far as we know, no other necklaces made of human teeth have ever been found, but necklaces made of animal teeth have been found, but that is not called tooth jewelry here – in this blog.

    The oldest tooth jewelry pendant, dated 6300 to 6700 BC found in Turkey.
    The oldest tooth jewelry pendant, dated 6300 to 6700 BC found in Turkey.
    Egyptian tooth jewelry is made of gemstones carved into the teeth.
    Egyptian tooth jewelry is made of gemstones carved into the teeth.

    Tooth Jewelry in Ancient Times

    It is known that the Egyptians already used gold and silver implants, but it is not entirely clear whether this was intended as tooth jewelry or whether it was ‘necessary’ because of the bad teeth.

    Real tooth jewelry was used by the Etruscans, who lived in Tuscany/Italy between 800 and 200 BC. We have found an example from the 7th century BC where a number of healthy teeth had been removed from a very wealthy lady. And between the remaining teeth were woven gold bands.

    This was not work for a dentist as you might expect but for a goldsmith. If you want to be beautiful you have to suffer, literally!

    Although tooth jewelry where gemstones were placed in or on teeth is quite rare in history, gold teeth, which were supposed to replace missing ones, are not. In Asia, Europe, and America we see gold teeth appearing as early as BC.

    Tooth jewelry from the Mayas

    The Mayan culture originated around 2000 BC in Central America (Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala) and reached a peak between 250-900 AD. And there, too, people had to deal with ‘trends’. And in this case the trend of using tooth jewelry.

    Archaeologists have found on average a skeleton with teeth decorated with precious stones during excavations of elite men and members of the well-to-do bourgeoisie. And then we talk about pyrite, jade, turquoise, etc. Those gemstones were placed in the teeth, so not stuck on them.

    That was the job of dentists, who must have been quite skilled. That is not surprising because the Mayan doctors could also perform quite complicated operations.

    The most difficult part of applying this tooth jewelry was not only drilling the hole, which had to be the right size for the gemstone to fit perfectly. But that gem also needs to be pinned.

    And they had invented a special glue for that, which had antibacterial, hygienic, therapeutic, and anti-inflammatory properties. And the ingredients of which were taken from the environment of the relevant dentist.

    That glue was also very strong because more than 1000 years after the gems were put in the teeth, it still works: no gem has fallen from the teeth, not even during the excavations. then something else…
    They colored the glue. The color of the gemstone to be placed in the tooth, or a matching color.

    Tooth jewelry of the Bolinao skull is made of tiny gold plates placed on the teeth.
    The tooth jewelry of the Bolinao skull is made of tiny gold plates placed on the teeth.

    Tooth jewelry and the Bolinao skull.

    In Bolinao, a town on the coast of the Philippines, 68 skulls from the 15th century AD were found, along with Chinese Early Ming ceramics from China. That included the Bolinao skull.

    This skull stands out because of its tooth jewelry. The teeth are ‘covered’ with very thin plates of gold, with the whole looking like fish skin. Those pictures are about 1 x 1.1 cm in size. A very painful decoration.

    Closer examination revealed that holes had also been drilled into the teeth, which were filled with gold plates, wire, plugs, and pins. It may have looked beautiful (well, everyone has their own taste), but having the operation must have been no fun.

    When the first explorers discovered the Philippines, they already noticed the gold teeth and thus the tooth jewelry, and the fact that the traditional Luzon people were proud of their tooth jewelry.

    An expedition diary of Antonio Pigafetta records that he encountered a chieftain with 3 gold spots on each tooth. And he had one golden smile. After settlers settled on Luzon and Christianity spread, the tradition of tooth jewelry died out.

    Tooth jewelry nowadays

    At Pinterest, they did a study on the ‘bling-bling trend’ of the Z generation. That is the generation born between 1995 and 2010, so the current youth. And according to that research, they like bling; I assume they mean quartz and perhaps colored glass, such as Swarovski.

    And not just earrings, necklaces, or bracelets. No, they also decorate their teeth with gems. So remember that they voluntarily go to a dentist, voluntarily endure pain in order to look “prettier”. And that while you can look very beautiful, without all that effort and pain.

    Modern tooth jewelry is made of a cheap crystal glued on the tooth. Costs: $12,99
    Modern tooth jewelry is made of a cheap crystal glued on the tooth. Costs: $12,99
    Modern tooth jewelry
    Modern tooth jewelry

    In the 1990s, braces to straighten your teeth were popular, but according to the actors of Sex in the City, they had to be decorated with gemstones, such as sapphires. And now you can buy at Amazon a piece of tooth jewelry set for $12,95.

    Luckily you don’t have to drill a hole in your healthy teeth to put a gemstone in it. It’s all fake gems and you glue them on your teeth. I hope for the Z-generation that when you want your tooth jewelry removed, the tooth enamel is not damaged in the process.

    You know that I love jewelry, and I believe that jewelry can make someone more beautiful, give them more confidence, and get more compliments. But as far as I’m concerned, tooth jewelry is not one of them. Certainly not the fake gemstones that are used for today’s tooth jewelry.

    If you want to know which jewelry looks best on you, which camouflages your lesser points, and which will get you a lot of compliments, request the free PDF that FlorenceJewelshop has published.

    free gifts: accentuate your best features
    Accentuate your best features
    Where can I send your free gift to?
    We respect your privacy.

    Florence from FlorenceJewelshop

    0 0 votes
    Article Rating
    Notify of
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x