Jewelry: Why Do We Wear It?

Jewelry: Why Do We Wear It?

Have you ever wondered why we accessorize with jewelry? It may feel like second nature to put on your earrings every morning before you start your day, but what triggers this habit? The tradition of crafting and wearing jewelry dates back thousands of years, a cultural practice of civilizations from every age and corner of the globe.

Jewelry has been worn throughout history as a symbol of wealth, status, family affiliations, and of course—love. Some wear jewelry as a means of artistic expression, communicating their creativity and quirkiness with unique and colorful embellishments. Others choose to wear jewelry for its symbolic meaning or personal significance. Oftentimes, some individuals choose to not even wear their jewelry. They simply collect these valuables, wait for its value to increase over time, and then sell it to trusted jewelry buyers like Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers & Jewelry Buyers.

Though jewelry may appeal to each of us for different reasons, there’s no denying that it plays a significant role in our everyday lives. In this article, we’re taking a deeper look at what inspires our persistent fascination with jewelry and discovering why these beautiful works of art have enchanted societies for millenniums.

Wearing Jewelry to Communicate Social Status

One of the primary reasons our ancestors wore jewelry was to convey prominence and social status to others. For centuries, wealthy families retained power and influence through marriage, and wearing ornate jewelry was one way of cementing matrimony. A woman heavily decorated in jewels was more likely to impress potential suitors, attracting a worthier companion than someone with fewer adornments. You can compare such dazzling demonstrations of prosperity to the way a peacock displays his vibrant, colored feathers to win over a possible mate.

In addition to being a token of riches, jewelry has also served as an amulet to ensure the safety and protection of influential people like royalty and religious figureheads. Ancient civilizations have long believed that colored gemstones and precious metals possess mystical properties that have the power to shield a wearer from harm, ignite their emotions, and stimulate wealth. Believe it or not, the royal jewels of Austria, Iran, Portugal, France, and many others are still preserved to this day, evidence of the opulence and grandeur of past time periods.

Wearing Jewelry for the Purpose of Self Expression

Much like the clothing we wear, jewelry can convey a lot about an individual’s style and interests. This is true of the jewelry we choose to wear ourselves, and that which we gift to others. Someone with a diverse sense of fashion may choose to wear bold, colorful jewelry that attracts a lot of attention, or that serves as a conversation starter. On the other hand, someone more modest may prefer classic, traditional designs that don’t conform to ever-changing jewelry trends.

Even more specifically, the jewelry we wear can reflect the mood that we’re in. A cheerful, upbeat temperament can be expressed with vibrant, colored gemstone jewelry. Alternately, feelings of melancholy can clearly be conveyed with dark onyx or black diamond jewelry.

It’s common for people to adopt a favorite symbol or icon, and to purchase jewelry that represents this fondness. Popular jewelry motifs include hearts, butterflies, bows, flowers, and crosses, to name a few. Such symbols project a message to onlookers about who you are as an individual. Ultra-feminine types may opt for dainty bows or butterflies, whereas a hopeless romantic might collect heart-shaped jewelry designs. Similarly, someone who is devoutly religious might express this by wearing jewelry that features religious iconography.

Jewelry is also often worn to show identification with a certain culture or society. Claddagh rings, for example, are cherished by those of Irish heritage, worn for centuries as a symbol of friendship, love, and loyalty. Here in the United States, turquoise is treasured by Native American cultures and has been worn as an embellishment for jewelry, clothing, and armor. It’s also been used as a resource for trade long before the advent of modern currency. In addition to these kinds of cultural significations, one may wear jewelry to mark belonging to a club or organization. Members of a fraternity or secret society like the Freemasons often display their affiliations by wearing jewelry with official group emblems.  

Giving the gift of jewelry can also be a mode of self-expression, as we tend to choose gifts that best translate our feelings towards another person. We express sentiments of love, attraction, sympathy, and more with the jewelry we give others. While some people are great at articulating their feelings, it’s easier for others to show their affection with a gesture. Jewelry offers a variety of colors and symbols that afford us plenty of choice when trying to convey specific emotions.

Wearing Jewelry for its Healing Properties

As we briefly mentioned, gemstone jewelry is believed to possess certain qualities and characteristics that make them significant to us. Each gemstone has its own unique meaning and spiritual energy that adds to its beauty and allure. Rubies, for example, are said to spark feelings of passion and adventure, while diamonds are believed to expose the joy and light within a wearer’s soul. Other gemstones like amethyst and morganite are treasured for their ability to help mend ailments of the mind and spirit.

Another wildly popular trend is birthstone jewelry. No matter what time of year you were born, there’s a radiant colored gemstone to correspond. Birthstone jewelry makes an excellent gift and is generally pretty easy to shop for. You can even choose to go the non-traditional route and select an engagement ring with a colorful center gemstone. More frequently, brides are wanting non-conventional designs with intimate details that are tailored to them. A glittering gemstone offers the perfect touch of personalization for the contemporary bride-to-be seeking to break from the norm.

We Wear Jewelry Because We Love It

There are endless reasons to wear jewelry, but perhaps the best explanation is simply that we love it. Like any form of art, jewelry plays to our senses and reveals our deepest emotions. It can empower us to feel beautiful, strong, confident, and wise while also helping to bring peace and balance to our lives.

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