In Lithuania jewellery articles became widespread at the beginning of the Bronze Age (1600 BC). Various jewellery designs were made of brass and silver (occasionally of gold), (collars, bracelets, brooches, headbands, finger rings, pins and pendants).Weapons, soldiers’ garments and horse bridles were also decorated using jewellery techniques. Most of metal jewellery was distinguished by their subtle, rich and original design and an abundant ornamentation. Jewellery of separate Lithuanian tribes differed significantly, however elements of ornamentation had much in common. Geometric patterns, peculiar to agricultural tribes, were used in metal and plastic jewellery; most of these patterns were thought to have mystical powers, whereas dots, loops, crosses and triangles were the symbols of the sun and the moon.


Metal jewellery

In 1495 the Grand Duke of Lithuania Aleksandras favoured the establishment of the goldsmith’s workshop in Vilnius and approved its statute that was adopted under the Western European pattern. Many goldsmiths lived in Kaunas. In the 16th-18th centuries there were goldsmiths in Klaipėda, Kėdaniai, Ukmergė and Raseiniai From the 19th century onward, when factory production increased, the role of goldsmiths decreased.


In the middle and the second half of the first millennium AD huge jewellery designs made of silver and brass with incorporated blue glass eye finger rings were spreading in the country’s markets. Geometric ornamentation that was prominent at the beginning of the second millennium AD consisted of relief designs (decorations on collars, bracelets, spurs and horse bridles; the horse bridle fitting was decorated with a concave-shaped diamond, a triangle and a raised zigzag-pattern resembling a string). In those days jewellery was frequently used in the patterns that stylized plant and animal motifs, moreover animal motifs consisted of relief designs. In the 13th-15th centuries collars decorated with woven bent rims, round flat - shaped brooches and finger rings with a narrow base widening towards the top of the finger as well as a ring eye, which was occasionally incorporated on the finger ring, were spreading in Lithuania. The mass produced finger rings lost their originality.


In the subsequent centuries jewellery production spread among urban artisans. At the beginning of the 18th-20th centuries decorative and household goods made of metal and plastic became extremely popular in Lithuania: memorial monuments (crosses, wayside shrines and chapels), metal ornamentation on the tower tops of religious buildings (usually, cross-linked ornamentation), chests, door hinges, locks and lanterns. The ornamentation of memorial monuments and tower tops was distinguished by its high artistic ingenuity. Ornamental elements made of rhythmically vibrant lines were incorporated in the patterns of geometric or stylized plant motifs; in the centre there was the image of the sun rays, whereas beneath — a symbolic image of the moon. The sun rays were designed with a particular ingenuity. The sun rays resembled a characteristic shape of waves likewise different plants; the images of a spear, lily, clover and other items were incorporated on the top of each sun ray.


According to the archeological data, the jewellery made of metal and amber was known in Lithuania already in the first millennium BC. They were made by local artists (brass and silver were imported).


Amber jewellery

Amber jewellery dates back to the Neolithic period (the 2nd-3rd millennium BC). In those days amber was used to make pendants, the figurines of people that were thought to have mystical powers, etc. In the subsequent centuries amber necklaces, brooches, bracelets, pins and other amber jewellery were widespread. Most of the jewellery enhanced natural features of amber, such as its translucency, shape, texture, etc.


Famous jewellery artists were these: V. Butvilas, J. Griciūnaitė, P. Norbutas and I. Pakutinskienė. Amber jewellery was displayed in the World Fair in Montreal in 1967 (Canada), whereas the works of separate folk artists – in different foreign countries.


Amber items made of bone, horn, paper, hay, wicker and other materials were less widespread in Lithuania. However, household items made of wicker; boxes of different shapes made of hay likewise other items that were related to folk customs, including decorative paper cutting, were more widespread in the country.