Jewellery consists of decorative items worn for personal adornments, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks. Jewelry may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western perspective, the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal such as gold used in different carats from 21, 18, 12, 9, or even lower, often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewelry, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used.
Jewellery is one of the oldest types of archaeological artefact – with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewellery. The basic forms of jewellery vary between cultures but are often extremely long-lived; in European cultures the most common forms of jewellery listed above have persisted since ancient times, while other forms such as adornments for the nose or ankle, important in other cultures, are much less common.
Jewellery may be made from a wide range of materials. Gemstones and similar materials such as amber and coral, precious metals like diamond, gold or silver, beads, and shells have been widely used, and enamel has often been important. In most cultures jewellery can be understood as a status symbol, for its material properties, its patterns, or for meaningful symbols. Jewellery has been made to adorn nearly every body part, from hairpins to toe rings, and even genital jewellery. In modern European culture the amount worn by adult males is relatively low compared with other cultures and other periods in European culture.
The word jewellery itself is derived from the word jewel, which was anglicised from the Old French “jouel”, and beyond that, to the Latin word “jocale”, meaning plaything. In British English, Indian English, New Zealand English, Hiberno-English, Australian English, and South African English it is spelled jewellery, while the spelling is jewelry in American English. Both are used in Canadian English, though jewelry prevails by a two to one margin. In French and a few other European languages the equivalent term, joaillerie, may also cover decorated metalwork in precious metal such as objects’ d’art and church items, not just objects worn on the person.
Humans have used jewellery for a number of different reasons:
• functional, generally to fix clothing or hair in place
• as a marker of social status and personal status, as with a wedding ring
• as a signifier of some form of affiliation, whether ethnic, religious or social
• to provide talismanic protection (in the form of amulets)
• as an artistic display
• as a carrier or symbol of personal meaning – such as love, mourning, a personal milestone or even luck superstition.
Most cultures at some point have had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewellery. Numerous cultures store wedding dowries in the form of jewellery or make jewellery as a means to store or display coins. Alternatively, jewellery has been used as a currency or trade good; an example being the use of slave beads.
Many items of jewellery, such as brooches and buckles, originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.
Jewellery can symbolise group membership (as in the case, of the Christian crucifix or the Jewish Star of David) or status (as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice of married people wearing wedding rings).
Wearing of amulets and devotional medals to provide protection or to ward off evil is common in some cultures. These may take the form of symbols (such as the ankh), stones, plants, animals, body parts (such as the Khamsa), or glyphs (such as stylised versions of the Throne Verse in Islamic art).
In creating jewellery, gemstones, coins, or other precious items are often used, and they are typically set into precious metals. Platinum alloys range from 900 (90% pure) to 950 (95.0% pure). The silver used in jewellery is usually sterling silver, or 92.5% fine silver. In costume jewellery, stainless steel findings are sometimes used.
Other commonly used materials include glass, such as fused-glass or enamel; wood, often carved or turned; shells and other natural animal substances such as bone and ivory; natural clay; polymer clay; Hemp and other twines have been used as well to create jewellery that has more of a natural feel. However, any inclusion of lead or lead solder will give a British Assay office (the body which gives U.K. jewellery its stamp of approval, the Hallmark) the right to destroy the piece, however it is very rare for the assay office to do so.
Beads are frequently used in jewellery. These may be made of glass, gemstones, metal, wood, shells, clay and polymer clay. Beaded jewellery commonly encompasses necklaces, bracelets, earrings, belts and rings. Beads may be large or small; the smallest type of beads used are known as seed beads, these are the beads used for the “woven” style of beaded jewellery. Seed beads are also used in an embroidery technique where they are sewn onto fabric backings to create broad collar neck pieces and beaded bracelets. Bead embroidery, a popular type of handwork during the Victorian era, is enjoying a renaissance in modern jewellery making. Beading, or beadwork, is also very popular in many African and indigenous North American cultures.
Silversmiths, goldsmiths, and lapidaries use methods including forging, casting, soldering or welding, cutting, carving and “cold-joining” (using adhesives, staples and rivets to assemble parts)
Many precious and semiprecious stones are used for jewellery. Among them are:
Amber, an ancient organic gemstone, is composed of tree resin that has hardened over time. The stone must be at least one million years old to be classified as amber, and some amber can be up to 120 million years old.
Amethyst has historically been the most prized gemstone in the quartz family. It is treasured for its purple hue, which can range in tone from light to dark.
Emeralds are one of the three main precious gemstones (along with rubies and sapphires) and are known for their fine green to bluish green colour. They have been treasured throughout history, and some historians report that the Egyptians mined emerald as early as 3500 BC.
Jade is most commonly associated with the colour green but can come in a number of other colours as well. Jade is closely linked to Asian culture, history, and tradition, and is sometimes referred to as the stone of heaven.
Jasper is a gemstone of the chalcedony family that comes in a variety of colours. Often, jasper will feature unique and interesting patterns within the coloured stone. Picture jasper is a type of jasper known for the colours (often beiges and browns) and swirls in the stone’s pattern.
Quartz refers to a family of crystalline gemstones of various colours and sizes. Among the well-known types of quartz are rose quartz (which has a delicate pink colour), and smoky quartz (which comes in a variety of shades of translucent brown). A number of other gemstones, such as Amethyst and Citrine, are also part of the quartz family. Rutilated quartz is a popular type of quartz containing needle-like inclusions.
Rubies are known for their intense red colour and are among the most highly valued precious gemstones. Rubies have been treasured for millennia. In Sanskrit, the word for ruby is ratnaraj, meaning king of precious stones.
The most popular form of sapphire is blue sapphire, which is known for its medium to deep blue colour and strong saturation. Fancy sapphires of various colours are also available. In the United States, blue sapphire tends to be the most popular and most affordable of the three major precious gemstones (emerald, ruby, and sapphire).
Turquoise is found in only a few places on earth, and the world’s largest turquoise-producing region is the southwest United States. Turquoise is prized for its attractive colour, most often an intense medium blue or a greenish blue, and its ancient heritage. Turquoise is used in a great variety of jewellery styles. It is perhaps most closely associated with southwest and Native American jewellery, but it is also used in many sleek, modern styles. Some turquoise contains a matrix of dark brown markings, which provides an interesting contrast to the gemstone’s bright blue colour.
Some gemstones (like pearls, coral, and amber) are classified as organic, meaning that they are produced by living organisms. Others are inorganic, meaning that they are generally composed of and arise from minerals.
Some gems, for example, amethyst, have become less valued as methods of extracting and importing them have progressed. Some man-made gems can serve in place of natural gems, such as cubic zirconia, which can be used in place of diamond.
For platinum, gold, and silver jewellery, there are many techniques to create finishes. The most common are high-polish, satin/matte, brushed, and hammered. High-polished jewellery is the most common and gives the metal a highly reflective, shiny look. Satin, or matte finish reduces the shine and reflection of the jewellery, and this is commonly used to accentuate gemstones such as diamonds. Brushed finishes give the jewellery a textured look and are created by brushing a material (similar to sandpaper) against the metal, leaving “brush strokes”. Hammered finishes are typically created by using a rounded steel hammer and hammering the jewellery to give it a wavy texture.
Some jewellery is plated to give it a shiny, reflective look or to achieve a desired colour. Sterling silver jewellery may be plated with a thin layer of 0.999 fine silver (a process known as flashing) or may be plated with rhodium or gold. Base metal costume jewellery may also be plated with silver, gold, or rhodium for a more attractive finish.
Most modern commercial jewellery continues traditional forms and styles, but designers such as Georg Jensen have widened the concept of wearable art. The advent of new materials, such as plastics, Precious Metal Clay (PMC), and colouring techniques, has led to increased variety in styles. Other advances, such as the development of improved pearl harvesting by people such as Mikimoto Kōkichi and the development of improved quality artificial gemstones such as moissanite (a diamond simulant), has placed jewellery within the economic grasp of a much larger segment of the population.
The “jewellery as art” movement was spearheaded by artisans such as Robert Lee Morris and continued by designers such as Gill Forsbrook in the UK. Influence from other cultural forms is also evident. One example of this is bling-bling style jewellery, popularised by hip-hop and rap artists in the early 21st century, e.g. grills, a type of jewellery worn over the teeth.
The late 20th century saw the blending of European design with oriental techniques such as Mokume-gane. The following are innovations in the decades straddling the year 2000: “Mokume-gane, hydraulic die forming, anti-clastic raising, fold-forming, reactive metal anodising, shell forms, PMC, photoetching, and [use of] CAD/CAM.”
Also, 3D printing as a production technique gains more and more importance. With a great variety of services offering this production method, jewellery design becomes accessible to a growing number of creatives. An important advantage of using 3d printing are the relatively low costs for prototypes, small batch series or unique and personalized designs. Shapes that are hard or impossible to create by hand can often be realized by 3D printing. Popular materials to print include polyamide, steel and wax (latter for further processing). Every printable material has its very own constraints that have to be considered while designing the piece of jewellery using 3D modelling software.
Artisan jewellery continues to grow as both a hobby and a profession. With more than 17 United States periodicals about beading alone, resources, accessibility, and a low initial cost of entry continues to expand production of hand-made adornments. Some fine examples of artisan jewellery can be seen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The increase in numbers of students choosing to study jewellery design and production in Australia has grown in the past 20 years, and Australia now has a thriving contemporary jewellery community. Many of these jewellers have embraced modern materials and techniques, as well as incorporating traditional workmanship.
More expansive use of metal to adorn the wearer, where the piece is larger and more elaborate than what would normally be considered jewellery, has come to be referred to by designers and fashion writers as metal couture.
In British English, Indian English, New Zealand English, Hiberno-English, Australian English, and South African English it is spelled jewellery, while the spelling is jewelry in American English. Both are used in Canadian English, though jewelry prevails by a two to one margin.
Jewellery is ornaments that people wear, for example rings, bracelets, and necklaces. It is often made of a valuable metal such as gold, and sometimes decorated with precious stones. Synonyms: jewels, treasure, gems, trinkets.
Women’s are passionate about jewelry as it represented a symbol of femininity and even social status. Jewelry has always made women feel beautiful and confident. Everywhere in the world, women are wearing an ample variety of jewelry. Whether it is about necklaces, bracelets or earrings, jewelry is extremely popular.
• Tiffany & Co. Blame it on the classic Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but there’s something undeniably timeless about anything from this age-old jewelry designer.
• David Yurman.
• Harry Winston.
A jeweler is a person who makes, sells, and repairs jewelry and watches.
Terminology. It is also called imitated jewelry, trinkets, fashion jewelry, junk jewelry, fake jewelry, or fallalery.
• Belt buckle.
• Belly chain.
• Bolo tie.
Different pieces were worn to symbolise different messages such as security, wisdom, elegance, and prosperity. Many women like to wear jewellery as a symbol of femininity or to showcase social status. Jewellery can also make a woman feel confident and beautiful.
Sterling silver is real silver. It is also known as 925 silver. The number 925, comes from sterling silver’s composition of 92.5% silver. The remaining 7.5% is made up of alloys, such as copper, to enhance the durability of the metal.
Jewellery is ornaments that people wear, for example rings, bracelets, and necklaces. It is often made of a valuable metal such as gold, and sometimes decorated with precious stones.