Jewelry has existed in one way or another dating back to the earliest traces of jewelry almost 90,000 years ago. Of course, at the time, the practices were not perfected nearly to the extent of even the jewelry found within the last 4 millennia. The earliest jewelry was primarily natural items such as shells, wood, stones, and feathers. They clearly were working with what they had, and can you blame them? Diamonds these days can be lab grown and the secret is, they are the exact chemical and physical equivalent to real mined diamonds. Check out this website that sells them, I’d say those look pretty real.
Anyway, we’re getting off track here. The real reason we are here today is to dive a little deeper into the significance of jewelry in our cultures and compare it to current and modern times.
CURRENCY – Of course the most common use of jewelry throughout time has been as a bargaining chip of some sort. Many cultures traded jewelry and even today, jewelry can be considered a currency if you consider the value of the metals and stones that went into making it.
STATUS SYMBOL – For a large period of time, most jewelry as we know it today was not affordable for most people. It was only the richest that you could afford it, thus wearing it would denote a higher class. In modern times, this is still the case although the distinction is no longer in the wearing or not wearing but the value of the piece that you wear.
RELIGION – Many people use jewelry for religious purposes. Whether the cross of the Christians or the Star of David for the Jews, many cultures have found symbolism in wearing certain symbols around their necks. They may also represent your position in the religion or even a religious right of passage such as a Bar Mitzvah or a Confirmation.
RELATIONSHIPS – The most commonly worn jewelry is a wedding ring or an engagement ring. Rings have been used to denote a marriage or bond between two people for many centuries and is a beautiful tradition we continue into today. This has evolved into friendship bracelets and matching charms for necklaces and earrings between good friends and family.
HEIRLOOMS – Due to the long-lasting nature of the jewelry, many precious pieces are passed down in the family for generations and generations. Wearing a family ring or necklace can be a very powerful symbol of unity for the young and old in a family, as well as a treasuring of the history that the piece has seen.
SELF-EXPRESSION – This list would not be complete without self-expression. After all, jewelry, like any fashion, is all about the art. Your taste shines through the clothing and accessories you wear, so self-expression is at the very foundation of why people wear jewelry. Whether it is a rad eyebrow piercing, an elegant necklace, or class ring, they all represent a part of you that you want the world to see.
There are, of course, millions of other cultural significances of jewelry, and we’ve only just brushed the surface of this discussion. It is important to consider, however, just how widespread even these few examples are, so the reaches of jewelry in everyday life is almost unavoidable. Look around you, and notice how you use jewelry, and what it means to you!
Until next time!