Ancient China Jewelry

Ancient China jewelry has been being made for more than 5,000 years. Everyone in ancient China liked to wear jewelry. The amount of jewelry worn by ancient Chinese was a sign of status.

Jewelry was made in a number of innovative ways in ancient China. There were numerous precious metals and stones used in ancient China jewelry.
Hairpin from Ming Dynasty

Types of ancient China jewelry

Ancient China jewelry included items such as pins, earrings, rings, necklaces, headdresses, belts, amulets, headbands, and rings.

Every piece of ancient China jewelry was worn by men and women both. The most popular piece of ancient China jewelry was an amulet.

Amulets are good luck charms that provide protection to the person who wears the amulet.
Jade Thumbring


Jewelry in ancient China was made from a variety of materials. Materials included jade, silver, clay, glass, stone, and gold.

Jade and silver were the most popular materials to use for making ancient China jewelry. Jade was used to make ancient China jewelry for many reasons. The reasons included beauty, durability and robustness.

Wearing jade jewelry in ancient China was also a status symbol. The ancient Chinese believed that jade represented morality, grace and dignity.

Jade was also seen as a protector to the person wearing the jade jewelry. Silver was widely used in ancient China jewelry. Silver was more plentiful than gold in ancient China.

Beads were made of a variety of materials including glass, stones and clay. Researchers have found ancient Chinese necklaces that were made of over 4,000 glass beads.
Xin Shaped Jewelry
Glass beads were colorful and could be molded into a variety of shapes too. Stones were polished and clay beads were often painted with designs.


Ancient China jewelry had many different features and designs. The ancient Chinese were masters at making figurines of the Chinses Zodiac symbols like pigs, rats, birds, and horses.

The most widely used design was dragons. Dragons were a mythical object that the ancient Chinese revered. Dragons meant fertility, good fortune and prosperity. Each symbol or design used in ancient China jewelry had a hidden meaning.

For instance, turtles were used to symbolize longevity, catfish were to ensure a happy marriage, butterflies meant beauty and elegance, and elephants brought strength.


Like many items in ancient China, specific colors were reserved for specific people or reasons. Brides often wore red ancient China jewelry to symbolize fertility, vitality, joy, and the color was believed to protect from evil spirits.

White ancient Chinese jewelry was worn during burials or funerals. Blue ancient Chinese jewelry was worn only by the emperor or royal family.

How do we know about ancient China jewelry?

Like many ancient societies in the world, the ancient Chinese were buried with numerous artifacts.

The ancient Chinese believed that the person would need these items in the afterlife. Many archeological finds of jewelry buried in graves have been found.

Important facts about ancient China jewelry

  • The ancient Chinese started to make jewelry 5,000 years ago.
  • Jewelry in ancient China was worn by men and women.
  • Ancient China jewelry was a status symbol.
  • The most popular material in ancient China jewelry was jade.
  • Silver was more popular than gold.
  • Ancient China jewelry included symbols and animals.
  • The most used animal symbol was the dragon.
  • Blue ancient China jewelry was reserved for the emperor or royal family members.


1. What was the most popular material used to make ancient China jewelry?


2. What color of ancient China jewelry was worn at funerals or burials?


3. What was the most popular piece of ancient China jewelry?


4. Ancient China jewelry was worn by whom?

Men and women