Ever wonder how decorating our bodies with trinkets, jewelry, got it’s start? Did the ancients of old see a pretty sea shell or rock and decided this would look good hanging on a string or possibly a thin vine around the neck? Or maybe decided to put this on their wrist. Did the women see an unusual bone fragment and decided it would look good holding her hair off her face? How did anyone decide which pieces of stone, metal, bone or shell was valuable enough to use as trading currency? I have just begun to research my questions and do not have answers yet. I have found the common previously reported ideas of jewelry to share. As I begin my quest I can see that there will be many more questions and I can’t hardly wait to find the answers.
Jewelry consists of decorative items worn for adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. For many centuries metal, often combined with gemstones [I call them pretty rocks], has been the normal material for jewelry, but other materials such as shells. Think of dried plant seeds and even animal bones being used or even bird feathers. Gemstones [pretty rocks] and similar materials such as amber, coral, precious metals, beads, and shells have been used. One of my favorites, Enamel, has often been important.
Jewelry is one of the oldest type of archaeological artefact. The basic forms of jewelry vary between cultures; in European cultures the most common forms of jewelry have persisted since ancient times, while other forms such as adornments for the nose or ankle, important in other cultures, are much less common.
Jewelry can be a status symbol, for its material properties, its patterns, or for meaningful symbols. A piece of jewelry in the form of a pineapple symbolizes that you are hospitable. A heart shape shows love. It is said that amber, bloodstone, garnet fire opal and ruby, symbolize fire. The meanings and symbols of jewelry item shapes [animal, flower, stars,etc.] will be the topic of a future article.
Jewelry has been made to adorn nearly every body part, from hairpins to toe rings, and even genital jewelry. The patterns of wearing jewelry between the sexes, by children and older people can vary greatly between cultures. Another topic to research.
The word jewelry itself is derived from the word jewel, which was anglicized from the Old French “jouel”, and the Latin word “jocale”, meaning plaything.