Then and Now: Why People Wear Jewelry

People put on jewelry every day that it has become second nature. They wear their earrings, necklace, or armband without giving it much thought, just like putting on their everyday clothes. If you are one of the several people who wear jewelry, you probably never stopped to think about why you are wearing one other than it makes you look good.

Jewelry is one of the most ancient forms of ornamentation and self-expression that has endured the test of time. But the reasons that people wear them today may be different from the meaning it held for your ancestors. Let us take an in-depth look into the reasons that compel people to wear jewelry then and now.

Ancient Times

The first pieces of jewelry can be traced back to 75,000 years ago. They were mostly made of animal hide, teeth, bones, feathers, and other animal parts. Shells and pebbles were also used to make crude jewelry. They were worn not only as personal decorations but as a way to identify with a tribe or a group.

This may seem unimportant, but at a time where belonging to a tribe means survival, it is essential. Tribal members are often buried with their jewelry, signifying a belief of an afterworld or a deeper meaning of life. Ancient people also used crude jewelry as trade commodities, helping them survive in yet another way.

People started living together and organized, giving rise to civilizations and all the developments that come with it. The Egyptians were the first to establish a system in making jewelry. It evolved rapidly during their time until there was jewelry for every part of the body.

There were crowns, diadems, and earrings for the head; necklaces and fibulae for the neck, armbands, bracelets, and rings for the arms and hands, and anklets and toe rings for the feet and legs. They used gold, colored glass, semi-precious gems, and other rare materials considered as luxurious, and this became a status symbol for political and religious figures. As for the lower classes, more inferior materials were used.

The custom of burying the dead along with their jewelry and other prized possessions continued with the Egyptians and all the other civilizations throughout history. It has become a subject of many studies that give important insights into burial trends, rituals, and religious beliefs of the ancient people.

Modern Times

Jewelry today still has spiritual implications, at least for some religions. The Crucifix and the Star of David are commonly seen on pendants and necklaces. So is the star and crescent moon symbol. Buddha pendants are believed to bring good fortune and health to the wearer. The use of birthstones is a different kind of spirituality associated more with the birth month of the wearer. 

To a lesser extent, people today still wear jewelry as a sign of wealth and, by extension, status in life. Rare materials such as diamonds and gold that were valuable then still hold high-value today. The rarer the material is used, the wealthier the wearer is, and the higher is their social status.

Other people wear jewelry to tell more of a personal story, a manifestation of their personality and psyche instead of spiritual beliefs. Some use jewelry to attract a partner, wearing accessories on erogenous parts such as the ears and neck. Others use it as a gift to gain the favor of someone they are trying to win over. Wedding bands, on the other hand, is a warning to others that the wearer is already “taken.” It may also be a reminder of a significant event in one’s life, especially if the jewelry is a keepsake. 

Into the Future

Jewelry e-commerce is one trend that the industry is looking into. With developments in the applications of augmented reality, online shoppers can choose the perfect armband or bracelet from thousands of designs. Brick-and-mortar shops are not going anywhere, but this will give jewelry shoppers more options for convenient shopping.

Sustainability is another trend that is increasingly embraced by all industries, even in the jewelry industry. Aesthetics alone would not compel today’s generation to buy jewelry. It has to be eco-friendly as well. Several brands are already using recycled gold or metals salvaged from technology waste.  

The jewelry industry is expected to expand in the following years. People may change, but so would technology and jewelry techniques. There will always be a piece of jewelry to suit every preference. With all the modern innovations in the industry, it is an exciting time to be a jewelry wearer.

Author Bio: Maddison Brown is a freelance writer and a GOT fan. Apart from writing quality articles on various niches, she likes to read & write fiction. More than anything, she loves to spend her time with her family, explaining technologies to the elders.