The Ornament Collection covers the Neolithic Period from around 4000 years ago until the late colonial period. The collection of ornaments come in various forms such as beads, necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, funerary masks, and encompass a wide range of material including shell, bone, clay, stone, glass, and metal.
The earliest ornaments in the collection comprise molluscan shells found in burials dating around 4200 to 4600 years ago in Palawan. Among these were two shell disks with perforation that were found in the grave of an adult male, next to his right ear and on his chest. Other personal ornaments such as earrings, anklets, bracelets, and beads were also recovered in the Tabon Cave Complex, Palawan. Some of the most notable pieces in the collection are the nephrite jade ling-ling-o ear pendants, specifically the Zoomorphic Ear Pendant, a National Cultural Treasures (NCT). Ling-ling-O earrings in the collection can also be found fashioned from shell and clay materials.
Beads are among the most common ornaments found in burial sites. The earliest glass and stone beads and bracelets in the Philippines are found in burial sites dated 2500–1500 years ago. Moreover, gold and bronze ornaments form another significant type of ornaments found in the collection that were used in the late first millennium BCE to the mid-second millennium CE. Gold and bronze were highly valued metals and the varied contexts of their use ranged from day to day personal adornment to mortuary status display. Three sets of gold death mask are currently in the possession of the National Museum of the Philippines – the Oton Death Mask, an NCT, the other from the Plaza Independencia Site in Cebu, and a donated set of funerary mask from Butuan.
Additionally, personal adornments shaped from animal bones and tusks are also included in the Ornament Collection such as a 17th–18th century fan fashioned from ivory archaeologically excavated from Mehan Garden in Manila.
The Ornaments Collection amassed by the National Museum of the Philippines through archaeological excavations and donations since the 1950s represent various aspects of early Philippine societies such as subsistence strategies, trade and commerce, social stratification, and craft artistry and technology.