The definition of jewelry is personal adornments, such as rings, necklaces, or pendants, which are generally made from or contain jewelry and precious metals. These can be attached to the body or personal decorations on clothing.
In most western cultures, especially in the UK, jewelry is primarily made up of gemstones or precious metals that are used as ornaments for fashion. It can also be used to indicate social or personal status. For example, a wedding ring symbolizes eternal love or a friendship bracelet represents a bond. Our jewelry can also be used to indicate sadness or even happiness, and can even add functional properties, for example, a watch. But apart from Britain, how and why are other cultures being endowed? These are some of the many meanings of jewelry in different cultures around the world.
The history of jewelry is long, dating back many years, with many different uses in different cultures. While jewelry has advanced over the centuries, many purposes and symbols remain important.
The most common purposes of jewelry are:
Even today, valuable jewelry can be an investment for the owner, but most cultures have a habit of owning large amounts of wealth in the form of jewelry.
Alternatively, jewelry was used as a type of currency or as a commercial tool.
Jewelry often represents a person’s social status. People of higher social status or wealth generally own and wear more valuable jewelry.
Jewelry can also symbolize a particular position within religion or group membership, as in the case of the Christian crucifix or the Jewish Star of David.
A popular goal of jewelry across cultures is to represent relationships as markers of personal status. Examples of this type of jewelry are wedding rings and engagement rings.
Jewelry has a long tradition as a talisman or amulet to offer protection, bring good luck and ward off evil.
Jade has been considered a gemstone in Chinese culture for thousands of years, so jade jewelry could be even more expensive than gold or silver. The combination of the beauty and durability of jade symbolizes the balance of yin and yang. The ancient Chinese also believed that wearing jade would ward off evil spirits and bad luck. Even today, many Chinese families have jade relics that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Pearl jewelry has played an important role in African cultures for thousands of years. Certain colors and bead patterns could be used to denote tribal affiliation, display status, and religious ceremonies. Many people often wore pearls as jewelry or used them as currency. The pearls were made from natural materials like stones, seashells, ivory, and even ostrich eggs. In parts of what is now South Africa, Zulu men and women used pearls to communicate. Some colors and styles informed others about marital status and even sent messages about home, family, and more.
Many things can be attributed to the ancient Greeks: philosophy, rhetoric, and democracy are the order of the day. However, they were also among the first to establish the concept of the rosary. Greek monks used pearl necklaces called komboloi to follow their prayers, much like a modern rosary. Although technically jewelry, for centuries only men wore komboloi and they were not worn. After a while, the komboloi lost their religious significance but retained their place in Greek culture as pearls of concern. Similar to a stress ball, worry pearls can be manipulated to relieve stress and pass the time. They are usually made of glass or amber.
Turquoise often appears in jewelry made by Native American tribes, but it is especially important to the Navajos of the Southwest, one of the largest tribes in the United States.
The colors in turquoise – blue, green, white, and black – symbolize a connection with nature because they mimic the colors of nature. Turquoise was believed to bring health, happiness, and good luck. It was also used as a status symbol within the tribe. The more jewels are worn and the larger the size, the richer and more powerful the wearer will be.
Today, there is no jewelry as popular in the US or more important than the engagement ring. While other jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, or bracelets can symbolize status and express a personal style, engagement rings send a special message to all who see them. They show the world that the woman who wears one is engaged and officially “off the market.” Diamonds are the most popular stone for engagement rings, although alternative stones are becoming increasingly popular. The engagement ring is gaining popularity around the world, although it is still the most common in the United States.
The Zulus, the largest ethnic group in South Africa, live in the southern African province of KwaZulu-Natal. In this tribe, beadwork is traditionally used as a means of communication between the sexes. As an engagement ring, Zulu beads are a more colorful way to reveal a woman’s marital status. It can also relate to her home, her family, and many other messages.
The colors, sizes, and orientation of the pearls have different meanings. Beadwork is typically created by women and taught to girls as a skill. For this reason, Zulu women often help men interpret other women’s jewelry.