Wild Lettuce Painkiller Medicine DIY

A natural remedy for pain

You might be wondering . . .

What does a lettuce painkiller have to do with jewelry, you ask? Elizabeth makes both!

In this article, you will learn how to identify and prepare wild lettuce painkiller medicine. You will also learn about the many other ailments that this wonderful wild herb can be used to treat.

Wild lettuce (Lactuca Virosa) has powerful sedative and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects, which calm the nerves and ease tension in the body and mind. Additionally, it is a great source of Vitamin A, fiber, and many other vitamins and nutrients.

My husband Jimmy lives with chronic pain. Because of the opioid scare, his doctor cut his dose of Tramadol (a non-narcotic, non-addictive, opioid derived drug) down to 1/4 pill per day, which is absolutely ineffectual. Jimmy’s doctor said to Jimmy about the pain, “I guess it comes with the territory (of getting old)”. This is when you start looking for alternatives.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it just seems prudent to start thinking a little more about homesteading practices and self-reliance, and especially in light of Jimmy’s experience with Western medicine.

Wild lettuce is a member of the asteraceae family, and a close family relative of the dandelion.

Common Names Include:

Bitter Lettuce
Opium Lettuce
Poisonous Lettuce
Prickly Lettuce
China Lettuce
Poor Man’s Lettuce
Green Endive


The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese all cultivated wild lettuce as a food crop, recording its beneficial use for pain relief.

Native to the Mediterranean region, wild lettuce was accidentally introduced into North America in the late 1890’s, possibly as a contaminate in seed. It is therefore officially on the list of “Invasive Species”. During its 130 years in the Americas, the Hopi tribe had time enough to incorporate it into their religious rituals, smoking the resin of wild lettuce leaf to induce altered dream states.

In the 19th century in the Americas, it was prescribed by physicians to treat anxiety, and insomnia; and as a painkiller when opium wasn’t available.

Having said that, there are no clinical studies that have shown it to be effective in pain management. However, one clinical study from 2009, showed “significant improvement” when used to treat both anxiety and depression.


  • Relaxes respiratory conditions such as whooping cough and asthma. Studies show that chemical compounds (sesquiterpene lactones) specifically found in the Asteraceae family are effective in reducing inflammation.
  • Skin maladies. Antibacterial qualities of wild lettuce make it a beneficial ointment when applied to open wounds. But other sources say it can cause skin irritation, especially for people with latex allergies.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease. A 2016 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that lactucopicrin increased neuritogenesis in brain cells extracted from lab rats. Wild lettuce has more lactucopicrin than any other plant.
  • Recreational use. Wild lettuce has been referred to as “poor man’s opium”. Wild lettuce has psychoactive properties when consumed in excess, and is sometimes used recreationally by people looking for a natural buzz. Lucky for us, it’s 100% legal in the United States. You are free to grow, buy, and use as much as the stuff as you want without prescription or license. Just make sure you’re not allergic to it first. How do you do that? Same as mushrooms: Try a very small amount first, wait four hours, then eat a little more, wait four hours, etcetera, until you reach full dosage.


This herb loves sunny locations. It can be spotted along roadsides, riverbanks, and in abandoned fields or other disturbed areas. Avoid cultivating plants that grow along the road, as they are likely to have contaminates from exhaust and oil from passing vehicles.


Wild Lettuce - Leaves on Stalk Similar to Dandelion
Wild Lettuce – Leaves on stalk more closely resemble Dandelion than those at the base

It can grow up to 6ft tall and has bright green leaves which initially form a basal arrangement (all parts grow from a single point in the ground in a rosette pattern). When it is ready to produce seed, it will grow a stalk that produces leaves that more closely resemble our friend the dandelion (the lobes are much more pronounced than those at the base). Leaves on the stalk sprout from a green stem that is occasionally spotted purple.

It is a biennial plant, which means it takes two full years to complete its biological life-cycle. The leaves on the stem are alternate, and vary in length from 2” to 14”, becoming smaller as they go up the stem. The leaves have a conspicuous

Wild Lettuce - Prickly Vein on Underside
Wild Lettuce – Prickly Vein on Underside

mid-vein, and the underside of the vein is covered in prickles. Yellow flowers develop mid-to-late summer, measure 1/2” in diameter, and grow in a branched inflorescence at the top of the stem. After ten days or so, the flower dries, and the fruit expands out to become seed-bearing parachutes, very similar to its cousin the dandelion. The white puffballs provide for widespread distribution, which makes the plant extremely successful at self-propagation.

Wild Lettuce "Milk"
Wild Lettuce “Milk”

One of the defining characteristics of wild lettuce is its sap. When scratched or broken, the plant secretes a sticky, milky white substance known as lactucarium. This is where the medicinal properties are.


FOR ORAL CONSUMPTION: Gather all parts of the plant which are above ground. Chop them into bits (or put in a blender for about three seconds), and transfer to a cooking pot. Add cold water just enough to just cover the greens, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the water becomes a dark green/brown color, stirring occasionally. Never allow the liquid to come to a boil or the beneficial compounds will be destroyed. Allow to cool. Strain the juice with a cheesecloth or similar mesh cloth (I use dedicated knee-high stockings), and return to the stove. Continue simmering until the liquid starts to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool again. Transfer to a jar with a lid, and store in the refrigerator (or your spring house).

SALADS: In early spring, the leaves are delicious and can be eaten right off the plant or added to salads. Wild lettuce is the most cold-hardy of all lettuces, and can be added to salads right up through midwinter, which is when the leaves become too woody and bitter for consumption.

TEA: Gather a handful of fresh leaves and drop them into a cup of hot water. Let seep for five minutes, remove the leaves, and drink. It’s an acquired taste which I have come to love. Starting off with tea has the added benefit of easing the user into the effects gently.


Because there are differences in potency due to time of harvest and the size, age, and sensitivity of the individual taking it, dose size can vary. Generally a teaspoon or two will do the trick. Start off will a smaller dose if in doubt. While it’s a “safe” drug, it’s still a drug. Taking too much can slow your breathing, which can be dangerous. Additionally, if taken every day (as for insomnia), the body will acclimate, and larger and larger doses will be needed to achieve the same effect.


It’s easy to find wild lettuce seeds online. Many varieties of wild lettuce seeds can be found on Amazon.

Sow your seeds in spring or fall, either in pots or directly into flower beds. The plant prefers sandy and loamy soils that drain well. It is hardy to zone 4 and cannot grow in the shade. Place the seeds in a shallow depression and cover lightly with soil. Tamp gently down to secure the seeds in place.

Keep the soil moist until your seeds germinate. Germination normally takes between 10 and 20 days. If the soil gets too warm it will retard germination, so if seeding in the Spring, make sure it’s well ahead of the heat of summer.

They need water, sun, and time to grow. They take two years to fully mature, and potency is greatest just as the plant goes to seed.


If you don’t want to wait two years on your harvest, and can’t find any growing wild in your neck of the woods, TerraVita sells wild lettuce leaf in softgels. You can take them with meals just like any other vitamin or supplement. The suggested dose is one with every meal (three times a day) to help with sleep, anxiety, and to reduce pain. For $16 including shipping for 100 softgels, what are you waiting for?

Link to Tera Vita Wild Lettuce Softgels: https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Lettuce-Leaf-capsules-514665/dp/B008X8JP5C/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1513217565&sr=1-5&keywords=wild+lettuce&th=1&th=1&linkCode=sl1&tag=ss-wildlettuce-20&linkId=69af022735cb1d3dd4a51597408e7266

For arthritis, Bianca Rosa sells a cream that you can apply topically which allows you to focus relief at the specific joints that are hurting. Once your skin absorbs it, you’ll experience the pain-relieving qualities of wild lettuce.

Link to Bianca Rosa Wild Lettuce Cream: https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Lettuce-Leaf-Cream-ZIN/dp/B008X8JURK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1513457670&sr=1-1&keywords=wild+lettuce+cream&th=1&th=1&linkCode=sl1&tag=ss-wildlettuce-20&linkId=5e76ddda0c66999bfced3c301a9e9527


Wild lettuce contains two compounds, known at lactucin and lactucopicrin, that act on the central nervous system. Wild lettuce has the highest concentration of lactucopicrin of all plants, although dandelion root and chicory root are also good sources.

In addition to its sedative and analgesic effects, lactucopicrin is believed to act as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning that it blocks cholinesterase enzymes that slow communications between brain cells. Wild lettuce is also said to exhibit potent antimicrobial activity.


Wild lettuce can cause toxic effects when eaten. In 2008 the Golestan University of Medical Sciences in Iran (native home of wild lettuce) admitted eight patients suffering from symptoms of wild lettuce toxicity, and while no one died, one patient spent 48 hours in ICU. No chronic complications were reported.

Source: https://casereports.bmj.com/content/2009/bcr.06.2008.0134.full


Ingesting large amounts of wild lettuce can slow breathing, cause sweating, fast heartbeat, pupil dilation, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and vision changes. If you feel the beginning of any of these symptoms, stop using it and drink water to help flush the system. If you have any conditions that may require surgery, stop taking wild lettuce at least 2 weeks before the scheduled surgery. Do not ingest wild lettuce if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have the eye condition narrow-angle glaucoma, or have allergies to related plants such as ragweed.


Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.

Are synthetic stones as powerful as natural stones?

The following article is liberally borrowed (with minor editing and additions) with gratitude, from an article written by Tamim Alnuweiri and found at wellandgood.com.

Everyone knows that man-made and natural crystals aren’t the same—but does this affect their healing powers?

When you’re a beginner in the healing world of crystals, your priority might be to actually start a basic collection (maybe even by foraging some stones yourself) before getting into the minutiae of details regarding meanings and use. But once you’ve created an energy-healing starter pack and are looking to expand your crystal collection and knowledge, you’ll notice that some crystals are made by humans and others occur naturally. Should you be concerned about the difference?

According to the Smithsonian, naturally occurring crystals are a byproduct of an underground scientific process, while the other is a type entirely man-made, often in a lab. The distinction between natural and man-made stones is important for a few reasons since their age (natural crystals might be as old as 4 billion years!), how they were formed, and where they grew reportedly impacts their energy.

“When a crystal forms of natural circumstances, it holds the energy, memories and history of its surroundings: the earth.”

Heather Askinosie, co-founder of crystal mecca Energy Muse and an author of Crystal Muse, says that in the energy-healing tradition, it’s believed that “when a crystal forms of natural circumstances, it holds the energy, memories, and history of its surroundings: the earth. The earth holds history and evolution within it, and over the course of a crystal’s development, it holds that energy as well.” Alternatively, a lab-grown crystal, “holds the artificial energy of how it was created,” Askinosie explains.

And because natural stones reputedly carry the direct energy of the earth, it’s common that crystal and energy-healing aficionados prefer to work with this variety. Shaman and healer Deborah Hanekamp, AKA Mama Medicine, notes that “the main purpose of the use of crystals in healing has to do with the energy they carry,” after all.

“Anything that you own and truly love, your love will shift the vibration of it because love is the most powerful energy shifter.” — Energy healer Mama Medicine, on the value of man-made crystals.

But this intel doesn’t render man-made crystals completely useless, let alone detrimental. Hanekamp says that this variety makes for great art or home decor, rather than a healing tool and adds that with “anything that you own and truly love, your love will shift the vibration of it, because love is the most powerful energy shifter.”

Basically, she says if you think something is powerful, it is—and, keep in mind that the placebo effect has proven to be scientifically useful. If you have an artificial crystal, Hanekamp advises, “The best way to clear the energy or charge the crystal would be to hold it in your hands and give it love.”

Earth-mined or synthetic? Scroll down to find out.

Another way to clear energy (much like hitting the reset button) on a stone, piece of jewelry, etc., would be to place it in a crystal bowl with some sea salt in a window or outside where the sunlight can bathe it for about 8 hours.

Can’t tell if you’re picking crystals from the earth or from a lab while perusing stones to add to your collection? Look at shape, texture, and color. Hanekamp says that the rougher a crystal is, the more likely it is to be natural. The man-made ones also tend to be less expensive, since there’s no rarity factor. If the shape of the crystal has been manipulated in any way (like into a heart, for example) or smoothed out, you should start to ask questions about the stone’s origin.

Ultimately, buying a crystal is meant to be about your personal connection to the stone. So if you feel especially drawn to a glimmering piece that just so happens to be human-made, go with your gut, cleanse it, energize it, and bask in the healing powers that you imbue it with.

ANSWER: It’s synthetic. Ready for cleansing and sum lovin’!

Our Obsession with Jewelry – More Than Sex

Why do we have such a jewelry obsession?

(photo credit)

The need for sparkly, colorful jewels and jewelry is a must for so many of us. For jewelry to be so universally coveted it must possess inherent value. If it is naturally beautiful, then perhaps the need for jewelry is synonymous with a need for nature’s beauty. That’s part of the story.

Jewelry ObsessionJewelry doesn’t fulfill a physical need; it isn’t food, shelter, or sex. It’s a psychological need. It acts as an agent of personality. We use it for status, power, connection, reminders of intention, and to boost our good old fashioned self-esteem. We identify with it. Take birthstones, for example. If aquamarine is our birthstone, we may develop a lifelong attachment to it, only because it coincides with the date of our birth, and we have been taught that the simple fact of that coincidence actually has significance.

Feeling like one of the herd is hard on the ego.

Mr. T
Mr. T, the king of bling

We have in innate need to feel special. In an effort to stand out and assert our individuality, jewelry obsession as evidenced by a large collection, large pieces, or the rarest of stones can go a long way to making us feel unique. The less common the stone, the more valuable it is to Elizabeth. For a jewel to be valuable, it only needs to be perceived as rare.

Take the diamond for instance. Diamonds are in actuality a fairly common stone but a tightly regulated industry creates a false impression of scarcity.

We associate certain stones with specific spiritual qualities. We give them a spirit. The personality of a stone becomes something we can identify with. If turquoise symbolizes great wisdom of basic truths and moonstones bring about calm and emotional balance, we may attribute them with the cause of these experiences when we wear them. And in doing so, we feel empowered; our sense self-esteem is reinforced.

Byzantine Gold Earrings
Byzantine Gold Earrings

So how exactly does a jewelry obsession work for us? Adorning oneself with jewelry has been an ever-present practice, across time, religions, race, class and gender. Ancient shell beads found in Algeria and Israel represent the oldest known attempt by people at self-decoration. Found many miles from the ocean, these perforated shells have been dated to be 100,000 years old.[1] The use of gold in jewelrymaking can be traced back to 5,000 years ago, beginning with the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures.[2] Obsession with jewelry has forever been a part of human civilization.

Jewellery has been used to denote status. In ancient Rome, only certain ranks could wear rings.[3] Later, Julius Caesar passed a law that made it unlawful for the lower class to wear pearls, and in 55BC his (failed) attempt to conquer Britain was all about his desire to possess Britain’s pearls. Caesar had a perilous obsession with jewelry, particularly pearls.[4]

The more money a groom has, the more likely

(photo credit)
(photo credit)

it is that the diamond will be larger, with a greater number of carats. For most couples, this is the most expensive piece of jewelry they will ever own. In 2015, the average cost of an engagement ring was $5,273.[5] Many future grooms are encouraged to pay two months’ salary for an engagement ring, a traditional amount that has been traced to a 1947 advertising campaign by DeBeers that also included the famed “diamonds are forever” slogan. This is probably the best example one could present to illustrate the status requirement and subsequent fulfillment afforded by jewelry in today’s society. Although a diamond can purely be a symbol of love for a person, it can also signify of a provider’s capability to take care of their mate financially.

masonic ring
(photo credit)

Another aspect of social status has to do with “who you know”. Individuals can show their affiliation with a group by wearing matching jewelry. Ancient groups in the past and secret societies have used jewelry in this manner, and today, college fraternities and sororities do the same. Teenagers may share opposite side of broken heart necklaces and bracelets to show their loyalty, and married couples share matching wedding rings. The willingness to affiliate with groups and individuals in this manner reflects both our need to achieve social status and our desire to belong.

In ancient Rome, women used jewelry, clothing,

(photo credit)
(photo credit)

hairstyle, and make-up to project their wealth and rank in the community. Additionally, the use of jewelry gave them control over their bodies in a world where nearly every part of their life was governed by a man. Women were permitted to leave their acquired wealth to their daughters, and in doing so, jewelry was used to build and display wealth and reputation in their communities. Pearls were especially valuable: even lower class women would wear them (until Julius Caesar came along); passers-by would assume a woman was untouchable simply because she was wearing one.

This power of adornment in the ancient world provided a momentous step towards the attainment of autonomy that women enjoy today in the modern world. It was “through [the agency of cosmetics, ornament, and beauty] that a woman could create space to assert herself socially and gain a sphere of influence,” in the ancient world. [6]

Historically then, control of wealth, status, and control of one’s own body (especially for women), have all been aided through the possession of jewelry. Now let’s have a look at jewelry specifically as helps us connect with the divine.

Perhaps adornment with jewelry simply reflects a need for something other, something higher; affirmation that an aesthetically pleasing thing can be created without human hands, and without human intervention. Isn’t this why an earth mined gemstone will always be more valuable than one created in a lab? Why a genuine pearl is infinitely more valuable than a cultured one?

Alternately, wearing religious symbols in jewelry can also help us feel connected to the divine. Not only does it send a message to the world that one is devoted to his or her religion, but it can serve the additional purpose of helping an individual feel more connected to the divine. It can act as a reminder for them that their deity is at hand, or even as a direct connection to the deity itself. crossI possess a silver cross (picture here) that I earned for singing in a Catholic choir once upon a time, and it has helped me through difficult periods. I could always take that cross in my hand, close my eyes, and feel a direct connection with the divine. Reassurance that I was not alone was always available and (literally) close at hand.

It seems logical to conclude that the psychological need for jewelry falls somewhere between social needs and esteem needs. While social needs have to do with where one ranks in a group, esteem has more to do with one’s need for recognition and status.

A branch of the self-esteem aspect of jewelry which must be considered is intention.

Intention is sometimes viewed as a pit-bull kind of determination, driving one to succeed no matter what the cost. This is not the kind of intention we’re thinking of when discussing jewelry and the use of jewels.

On one’s path toward the unobtainable (perfect God-state), intention is a force in the Universe that allows the act of creation. Intention is not something you do, but is an energy that we are all a part of. We are wayne dyerall exactly where we are as a result of the power of our intention, though more often than not, unconsciously. Intention is an energy that can be accessed to purposefully co-create our lives, as in, on purpose. For more info, check out the amazing book by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, The Power of Intention.

The sages of India observed thousands of years ago that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads declares, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

The stone amber was once thought to be sunshine made solid. In ancient Egypt, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and clear quartz were used in amulet jewelry; stones believed to provide health and protection. Even the Hindu Vedas (aged conservatively at 5,000 years old) speak of crystals as healing tools.[7]

Hindu Vedic astrology suggests wearing gems, and ingesting them internally or as gem tinctures. Stones worn as rings and pendants should be mounted so as to touch the skin. Pendants, it instructs, should touch the heart or throat chakras, and rings with different gemstones should be worn on various fingers, as the elements dictate. [8]

But let’s return to the issue of self-esteem and its

(photo credit)
(photo credit)

love-child, intention. The desire to carry reminders of our intentions is not new. And if we’re paying attention, we understand the power of intention. We have carried talismans of crystal, stone, glass, clay, and metal for centuries, all over the world. We carry stones in our pockets and around our necks as reminders of our goals and intentions. On a finger, a ring can carry a message: this person is taken, “till death do they part”.

Madgi Del Moro, founder of Bahgsu Jewels says, “You have the power to choose a jewel that helps you to identify an element in yourself that maybe sometimes gets pushed to the way side. This conscious decision is a powerful step in allowing for what you taught yourself on the (yoga) mat to have an actual shape and form. For example, I wear my chrysoprase ring for it reminds me to go with the flow and remain flexible no matter how twisted the road is.” [9]

Any stone, from a pretty pebble found at the bank of a babbling brook to the fire opal which is said to restore vitality, can be worn to remind us of a deeper meaning and any intention we choose to make manifest as our reality.

Whether stones actually carry the properties that we bestow upon them is therefore, irrelevant. Our very intention imbues them with these characteristics, and so it is. Our intention makes it so.

maslowThe famous Maslow pyramid of our Hierarchy of Needs shows that humans have several layers of needs that have to be met in order for us to feel fulfilled and happy. Once our basic needs (food, water, warmth, rest, safety and security) are met, there are other, “higher needs” that arise, which include romantic interactions.

We can only guess why our ancient ancestors started adorning themselves with jewelry, but attracting a mate is certainly worth our consideration.sexy critters In the natural world there are many animals that have an inbuilt ability to attract the opposite sex: Take the peacock spider, the frigatebird, and the puffer fish (the peacock is so over the top). Nature has built in mate-attracting features to these creatures, but what has man?

Certainly a caveman decorated with jewelry would have a greater chance of attracting a mate than a similar but unadorned caveman. Our obsession with jewelry may well have begun the moment we realized that it could help attract and secure a mate.

It’s also conceivable that jewelry was used to denote age, sex, clan affiliation and/or status, but this author’s bet is on romance. After all, it’s the next block on Maslow’s pyramid. So while we will only ever be able to speculate, it is very likely that jewelry played an important role in the courtship dance.

Whether you wear jewelry to fit in, as a means of personal expression, as a talisman, or a reminder of the divine, your jewelry is a statement about who you are. It carries a message about you to the world, whether you are sending the message consciously or not. In a way, your jewelry can be seen as a small reflection of your personality.

All forms of expression are valuable, and anything that provides pure pleasure is worth value. In this way, jewelry connects us to humanity and to each other. It prompts us to think, to feel, and to love.

When purchasing jewelry, invest in unique pieces that will make you feel confident and reflect your inner beauty. When it comes to jewelry, it is wise to follow your own truth, path and purpose. Don’t be afraid to create your own intimate style. Treat your obsession with jewelry as your personal expression of the divine.

“When you love and laugh abundantly, you live with purpose. ” ~anon

When you wear jewelry that has a meaningful message for you, it makes you feel uplifted and sentimental. Jewelry that has a special meaning to you or the one you buy it for will give you great satisfaction, fill you with warmth, and truly communicate the power of love.

Shop outside the big box. Choosing the right accessories can make a huge impact on your confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments below!

1. livescience.com
2. en.wikipedia.org
3. romeandart.eu
4. ringlingdocents.org
5. weddingstats.org
6. books.google.com
7. wanderlust.com
8. hinduism.about.com
9. wanderlust.com

Apes and a Historic Use of Jewelry

Exploring advanced civilizations that existed before our current technological age is tantalizing. During my younger years I was under the arrogant impression that before the age of mechanical and electrical things, all of humanity was comprised of baboons parading as people. Turns out I was wrong. In our look at the manufacture of and historic use of jewelry, we’ll see that we were smarter than we thought we were … maybe even smarter than we are today.

historic use of jewelry
100,000 year old beads
Around 10,000 years ago, man started to use metals to create tools and jewelry.


Jewelry and its manufacture are the topic of today’s study. Would you be surprised to learn that the world’s oldest jewelry find dates back 100,000 years? Beads made from Nassarius shells were excavated from Mount Carmel in Israel and in Oued Djebbana, Algeria, far from the ocean (1). Scientists have been able to accurately date these shell beads with radiocarbon dating, which is a fascinating topic for another day.


Although metal and stone don’t contain carbon and therefore cannot be carbon dated, the pieces surrounding the artifact can be dated, and it is generally accepted that the stone or metal artifact is of that time period as well.


Now skip forward 90,000 years. Around 10,000 years ago, man started to use metals to create tools and jewelry (2). The earliest known jewelry was made of soft metals such as copper, silver and gold. They were pounded into sheets and eventually wire was made by pulling narrow strips of thin metal through holes in stone beads, causing the strip to curl into itself and form into a thin tube. During 2nd Dynasty in Egypt, these tubes were rolled between two flat surfaces, making a more solid wire.


Varna Necropolis Bulgaria
Varna Necropolis Bulgaria

Here is a picture of the earliest known gold artifacts omeprazole magnesium. They are from a burial site known as Varna Necropolis in Bulgaria (3), and are dated to the 5th millennia BCE. To be clear, that makes them 7,000 years old. The technical sophistication displayed by these artifacts (like the hollow bangle bracelet) is just astonishing.


We’re pretty sure they didn’t have the tools that we have today, so it should be safe to assume that these items were produced by a simpler means. Perhaps starting with a gold nugget, smelted (melting) was employed to reduce impurities and produce a gold ingot (lump of purified metal). Hammering gold into sheets requires metal uniformity, so smelting was a must. After being hammered into sheets, gold could be cut and rolled up to form beads. It’s anyone’s guess how that bangle bracelet was made.


When man first started working with metals, for jewelry, weapons, and tools, the desire for the ability to join them almost certainly arose.

Egyptian Goldsmith
Egyptian Goldsmith

Soldering was perfected by the goldsmiths of ancient Egypt more than 5,000 years ago (note the blowpipe). The earliest archeological evidence of soldering dates back to 4000 BCE, when gold-based, hard solders were developed by artisans in Mesopotamia and soon spread into Egypt (3600 BCE), Ur (3400 BCE), Greece (2600 BCE), and other Mediterranean regions.


When tin combined with lead was discovered as a soft-soldering medium in Crete around 3,500 BCE, the ability to solder spread quickly around the Mediterranean. The Cretans showed it to the Etruscans, who then taught it to the Romans, Tunisians and Spanish, followed by many others (4). But the Romans are credited for the most “impressive” achievements, like lead water pipes. Impressive as lead pipes may be, some historians speculate that the demise of the Roman Empire was due to lead poisoning. In addition to lead water pipes, Romans cooked their wine in lead cauldrons. (5) Other historians argue that the decline of Rome was the result of the Roman aristocracy’s distaste for marriage and the rearing of children. Interesting, but I do digress.


The first electric soldering iron was developed by Ernst Sachs in 1921. If you’re anything like me, you are wondering how in the world soldering was performed without the use of an electric soldering iron. It’s been described as a “simple” process (ha!) that has been lost and rediscovered several times during the last 7,000 years. I am a “nuts & bolts” kind of gal, and these kinds of details fascinate me. You never know, maybe you’ll want to give this a try sometime. After the apocalypse. Here is the recipe:


More accurately described as “reaction soldering with copper salts”, it involves finely ground malachite (a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral), a sour apple, a small piece of gold foil, a block of charcoal, a blow pipe and a small alcohol-burning lamp or a candle (6). With these “instruments”, gold granules, wires, or strips of “granulation” or “filigree” can be hard soldered or brazed together. Let’s play chemistry!


Babylonian Necklace
Babylonian Necklace
8th Century BC Gold Bead
8th Century BC Gold Bead

This Babylonian necklace is 3,600 years old. Make a note the swirl patterns and the shape of the gold beads which reflect the Sumerian tradition of jewelry.


The Bronze Age is defined as the period of time that civilization began smelting copper (with up to 30% tin to create the alloy known as bronze) and trading it (7). Adoption of bronze technology was not universally synchronous, but it began around 3,300 BCE. When man learned to combine metals to make alloys, and the art of creating jewelry (and the craft of weaponry) truly blossomed.


Sumer was the first ancient urban civilization in the region of southern Mesopotamia, (modern-day southern Iraq), and is arguably the first civilization in the world. By 3,600 BCE they had invented the wheel, writing, the sail boat, agricultural processes such as irrigation, and the concept of the city (8). The area now called the Arabian Peninsula saw widespread trade even before 5,000 BCE, evidenced by obsidian and seashell beads.

 Sumerian Earring
Sumerian Earring

Jewelry wasn’t a new concept when the Sumerians got their innovating hands on it. Between 2,750 BCE and 1,200 BCE, their innovations made their jewelry seem like it was an entirely new invention. Sumerian jewelry makers were the first to use techniques like granulation and filigree. Chains, made with the basic loop in loop method and filigree show that the Sumerian goldsmiths had a firm grip on making and using gold wire. A typical motif is that of the spiral. Metalworking techniques weren’t very complicated but nevertheless very effective.

Hungarian Fibula
Hungarian Fibula

Around 3,400 years ago, a skilled artisan created this Hungarian fibula (type of safety pin), on display in the British Museum. It is a beautiful example of early “wire wrapping.” Ancient spirals are found worldwide across all cultures. They are found on cave walls, pottery, and even in writing. So it is no surprise that it is one of the oldest designs in used jewelry.


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Calder Necklace
Calder Necklace

Alexander Caudle, 1898 – 1976 was an artistic innovator, taking line drawings on paper one step further and making “linear sculptures” otherwise know as wire sculptures. He is best known for his invention of the hanging mobile, but he was also made innovative strides in the craft of wire jewelry. Or did he? This necklace looks somewhat familiar.


Modern Day Star Shaped Wire Wrap
Modern Day Star Shaped Wire Wrap

In all my searching, I have not come upon anything even remotely like the complicated wire wraps that we are seeing today. My belief is that wire wrapping has evolved to this complicated degree of weave only within the last ten years. Still, as I have demonstrated, wire wrapping is not a new technique.


And what a statement, to be seen wearing such a work! Perfectly suitable for a king or queen. I don’t expect my wire wraps to ever evolve to this degree of intricacy, perfection, or size. I rather like the simple designs that I’m currently making, and appreciate the fact that anyone can afford them. I’m all for the “little guy”! While the design pictured here is no longer available, I’ve seen comparable pieces going for upwards of $4,000. I’ll leave the catering to the wealthy to other artisans.


I look forward to seeing your comments! If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive more like it in your inbox, please sign up below.


1. news.nationalgeographic.com
2. iransara.info
3. en.wikipedia.org
4. kurtzersa.com
5. penelope.uchicago.edu
6. download.springer.com
7. en.wikipedia.org
8. ancient.eu


Would you like a Carat with your Karat?

carat-vs-karat-vs-carrotThe following article regarding “carat” and “karat” is adapted from an article written by a man for other men on the verge of having their billfolds emptied for a particular blingy object:


“Here is some information to help when you make that visit to foreign territory known as the jewelry store. It has to do with the difference between the terms carat and karat. Both are relevant, and they are different.


“Let’s start with carat with a ‘c.’ A carat (abbreviation ct.) is a weight measurement for precious gemstones, especially diamonds. Many people think the carat refers to the size of the gemstones. That is not completely the case. The carat is a measurement of weight or mass. So, it makes sense that a larger stone would weigh more, thus having more carats. While size does affect the weight of the gemstones, they can have varying density, so weight, along with the purity of the gemstone is what determines the price of precious stones.


“For those who like numbers, a carat is a unit of weight equaling 200 milligrams Continue Reading. To put this in perspective, to have one pound you would need 453 grams, or 453,000 milligrams. Another example is that a person weighing 170 pounds would weigh 385,050-carats.


“The other karat with a ‘k’, is used to measure the purity of gold. Gold itself is very soft, and like silver, it needs to be alloyed (combined) with another metal or metals to make it stronger and consequently less expensive.


“The carat became legal standard for gold on April 1, 1914 and only implied weight.


“The term ‘karat’ comes from the old German gold coin used about one thousand years ago. Karat is a unit of measure for the fineness of gold, equal to 1/24 part. Each karat indicates 1/24th of the whole. So if a piece of jewelry is made of metal that is 18 parts gold and 6 parts copper, that is 18-karat gold. The abbreviation for karat is kt.


“Is 24 karat gold (pure gold) the best quality one can buy? It depends on what you’re using it for, since it tends to be soft and not very durable. It can be susceptible to scratching and can be damaged easily. That is why the gold is combined with metals such as silver, copper and zinc to strengthen it.

“Although the karat does determine the value of the gold, it does not indicate the price we will pay when we go searching for that new bright shiny object. Precious metals are measured in troy ounces with one troy ounce equaling about 31.1 grams. There are 12 ounces per troy pound.


“In general, carat refers to mass and karat refers to gold purity. But, beware that in some places carat is the term compared to both mass and purity.


“Also, don’t forget that there is a word caret that refers to spacing symbol or mark used in written or printed material to show the place where something is to be inserted.”


This article first appeared in the November 25, 2011 Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.