By Michelle Graff

We all know that fashion trends are cyclical, and jewelry fads are no exception. Who hasn't dipped into her mother's or grandmother's jewelry box in recent seasons to pluck a brooch or a strand of pearls that had suddenly fallen back into fashion's favor.

Of course, I've interviewed many designers who've told me that the trends go back much further than a few generations. I've heard various jewelers cite just about every era and place in history—from ancient Rome to Queen Victoria's England—as a source of inspiration for current design.
But a visit yesterday to the American Museum of Natural History's new "Gold" exhibit, which opens to the public this Saturday, really illustrated the point. I saw gold earrings from the Hellenistic period in Greece that looked almost identical to a pair I received for my birthday a few years back and  an ancient Inca necklace of gold beads that I would buy in a heartbeat if I saw it in a store.

At least half of the jewels on display—hammered cuff bracelets, chunky chain necklaces and "lucky" charms and talsimans—could easily sell in a modern retail store.

The experience got me thinking about current jewelry trends. Could my chandelier earrings and stackable rings end up in a museum showcase in 500 years where visitors would marvel about how jewelry trends in the 2500s are so similar to those in the barely civilized 2000s? I think they just might...I better take good care of them just in case.

Pictured above: An Inca necklace of 13 hollow gold beads found in Cajamarca, Peru.

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