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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