Every day we see women and men wearing all different types of jewelry without really stopping to think about it. Why do people wear jewelry and when did the practice start? What types of jewelry do people wear and what purposes does it serve? What metals and gems do people use to make jewelry and how many different types are there?
A Brief History
There is a great deal of archeological evidence which proves that the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all wore jewelry. Most Egyptian jewelry was made out of gold. The ancient Greeks used gold and gems like amethysts, garnets and pearls to fashion necklaces and earrings. The Romans used many materials including wood, gold, amber, emeralds and garnets to make their trinkets.
In thirteenth century Medieval Europe a law was passed in some countries that made it illegal for all but the wealthiest people to wear sumptuous clothing and decoration. Every individual had to dress according to their station in life and certain jewels and materials were strictly prohibited for those below a certain rank.
By the seventeenth century jewelry was considered a fundamental part of a woman’s wardrobe. A lady would not be seen in public without her earrings and ornaments. The most precious jewelry in a woman’s collection was saved for evening wear. However it was not until the Victorian era that the widespread use of jewelry extended to the United States. Advances in technology meant that it became easier to manufacture jewelry so that more people could wear it. However, the wealthiest women still wore fine expertly crafted items.
Today women around the world wear all different types of jewelry. We adorn our heads with earrings, nose rings, nose chains and tiaras. We wear chokers and necklaces around our necks and beautify our wrists and hands with rings and bracelets. Some women also wear ankle bracelets and toe rings so that even their feet look pretty. Other items of jewelry include brooches, pendants; belly button rings, belly chains and armlets.
Today jewelry is generally made out of metals such as platinum, yellow, white and rose gold, silver, titanium, tungsten, stainless steel and rhodium. Some jewelry also contains precious gems such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires or semiprecious gems like amethysts, pearls, citrine, aquamarine, turquoise, jade, lapis lazuli, bloodstone, amber, quartz and onyx.
Technological advances mean that it is possible to produce many gems synthetically in a laboratory. For instance some people wear rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings that include cubic zirconia. It doesn’t cost much to make cubic zirconia synthetically but it looks very similar to a real diamond and is almost as resilient.
Reasons For Wearing It
Why do women (or men) wear jewelry? The most obvious reason why we wear it is to enhance the physical appearance. The right bracelet or pair of earrings can compliment an outfit to make the wearer feel more attractive and self confident. Nevertheless there are also other reasons why people choose to wear jewelry.
Some people like to wear items that contain certain precious or semiprecious gems because they believe that they can restore their mental, physical or spiritual wellbeing by balancing internal energies or chakras. For example the semiprecious gem amber is purported to heal or at least ease medical conditions such as bronchial infections, asthma, convulsions, earache and rheumatoid arthritis. Reiki healers also claim that amber will calm and relax any individual who wears it.
Many people also wear jewelry as a token of their faith. Crucifixes, St Christopher pendants, purity rings, mezuzah pendants, rosary beads, Star of David necklaces, Islamic prayer beads and Buddhist symbol bracelets are just some of the items that are used or worn for religious purposes. People throughout history have worn jewelry for practical purposes too. Items that have a particular use include amulets, military dog tags, medical alert bracelets and signet rings.
Rolf Joho is owner of Internet InfoMedia and writes on a variety of subjects. For more Jewelry questions visit: Jewelry
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