Since the dawn of time, mankind has adorned himself with some form of decoration, even if our prehistoric ancestors started the trend with something as crude as animal teeth. Wealth, love, religion and decoration may be our reasons for wearing jewellery today but in more ancient times the wearing of parts taken from creatures slain in battle was considered a demonstration of strength. This may even be related to the modern-day wearing of jewellery as a demonstration of one’s wealth.
The term “jewellery” originates from the old French “joule”, a word dating back to the thirteenth century. Jewellery is often used as a form of decoration; however more serious purposes can hide behind this such as the demonstration of a political view, religious view or as a symbol of wealth and power.
There are many different types of jewellery, including pendants, necklaces, rings, bracelet, brooches and earrings. Symbolic jewellery can take the form of wedding rings, engagement rings and eternity rings. This type are often worn as an expression of love or a symbol of a partnership between people. Other symbolism used within jewellery may be religious and include crosses, crucifixes and purity rings.
Whilst jewellery can be used to show your adherence to a particular belief, various counter-cultures have also take to wearing jewellery to demonstrate their defiance of politics, culture and religion; think of the rock star with the inverted cross, or the Goths and Emo’s use of skulls and other symbols of death.
There are differing beliefs surrounding jewellery. Birthstones are believed to bring good luck to the wearer with the type of stone dependent upon the month you were born in. For example, a person born in May should wear emerald; someone born in June should wear alexandrite, pearl or moonstone.
Jewellery may be worn by men and women alike. Traditionally, mail jewellery has included a variety of items ranging from designer wristwatches to gold chains, wedding rings to cufflinks. For a time it, amongst some circles it was considered uncouth for a man to wear chains, necklaces or rings, however this is now commonly accepted.
Despite a more relaxed attitude within our culture, many employers still have strict guidelines as to what may or may not be worn whilst at work. In some positions this is understandable; obvious health and safety regulations make it a necessity that people in food preparation or medical positions avoid wearing anything that could come loose, however this also extends to other client facing positions such as those in retail.
As a symbol of wealth, quite often the most expensive items of jewellery may be the least obvious: while bigger items may be more obvious and “blingy,” smaller, more intricate items containing expensive stones and gems can carry the highest price tags. Of course, the value of an item of jewellery may not entirely be denoted by the materials it is derived from; some items of jewellery are more expensive owing to the designer.
Contemporary jewellery is very popular and can incorporate a variety of different stone types. Popular designers include Alex Monroe, Babette Wassermann, Chris Hawkins, Clara Francis Dunhill and more. Jewellery designers are adept at creating unique and desirable items. Their work can sell for extremely high figures.
Not all forms of jewellery incorporate a stone within the design and often the material from which the jewellery is constructed will play a part in its look, durability, value and desirability. Contemporary silver jewellery is increasingly popular due to its desirable appearance, flexibility and price tag.
The human race has always had a fascination with jewellery and this shows no signs of abating. One thing is certain: the rarer the item, the more people will want it.