Cowrie Shell Necklace.
© Trustees of the British Museum.
Objets trouvés are literally found objects. The earliest “jewels” with which humans chose to adorn themselves were selected from readily available items such as shells, teeth, small stones, bones, etc. A hole was drilled and the object suspended from a cord – Voilà – jewelry! Early civilizations had no way to make jewelry other than the use of objets trouvés but, interestingly enough, long after the technology was available to work metals, carve and facet gems, etc., these found objects continued to be used in jewelry making for their beauty and amuletic appeal. Indeed, shells, beach glass, pebbles, feathers and the like continue to appear in 21st-century jewelry.