Jewelry and its history
Jewelry is a form of personal ornament. They are many different form of jewelry such as rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, brooches.
With some exception such as military dog tags, or medical alert bracelets, jewellery differs from other personal ornament in that it has no other purpose than to look attractive, but it has been producing and wearing for a long time. An evidence is the 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells might to be the oldest known jewellery.
Jewelry can be made from many different materials, but gemstones, precious metals, beads and shells have been often used. Depending on the culture and times jewellery was appreciated as a status symbol, for meaningful symbols, for its material properties, or its patterns. Jewelry is made to beautify nearly every part of the body, from necklaces to toe rings.
The jewelry word is derived from the word jewel, which was anglicized from the Old French "jouel",and beyond that, to the Latin word "jocale", meaning plaything.
Jewelry was used for many different reasons such as currency, wealth display and storage; clasps, pins and buckles symbolism to show membership or status; protection in the form of amulets and magical wards; artistic display.
Most cultures have at some point had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewelry. Numerous cultures move wedding dowries in the form of jewelry or create jewelry as a means to store or display coins. Alternatively, jewelry has been used as a currency or trade good; an example being the use of slave beads.
Many items of jewelry, such as brooches and buckles, originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.
Jewelry can also be symbolic of group membership, as in the case of the Christian crucifix or Jewish Star of David, or of status, as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice of married people wearing a wedding ring.
Wearing of amulets and devotional medals to provide protection or ward off evil is common in some cultures; these may take the form of symbols, stones, plants, animals, body parts, or glyphs.
Although artistic display has clearly been a function of jewelry from the very beginning, the other roles described above tended to take primacy.
Materials and methods
In manufacturing jewelry, gemstones, or other precious items are often used, and they are typically set into precious metals. Alloys almost every metal known have been encountered in jewelry. Bronze, for example, was common in Roman times. Modern fine jewelry usually includes gold, white gold, platinum, palladium, titanium, or silver. Most American and European gold jewelry is made of an alloy of gold, the purity of which is stated in karats, indicated by a number followed by the letter K. American gold jewellery must be of at least 10 K purity (41.7% pure gold), (though in the UK the number is 9K (37.5% pure gold) and is typically found up to 18 K (75% pure gold). Higher purity levels are less common with alloys at 22 K (91.6% pure gold), and 24 K (99.9% pure gold) being considered too soft for jewelry use in America and Europe. These high purity alloys, however, are widely used across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 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.
Bead embroidery design
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; and even plastics. Hemp and other twines have been used as well to create jewelry that has more of a natural feel. However, any inclusion of lead or lead solder will cause an English Assay office (the building which gives English jewelry its stamp of approval, the Hallmark) to destroy the piece.
Beads are frequently used in jewelry. These may be made of glass, gemstones, metal, wood, shells, clay and polymer clay. Beaded jewelry commonly encompasses necklaces, bracelets, earrings, belts and rings.
Advanced glass and glass beadmaking techniques by Murano and Venetian glassmasters developed crystalline glass, enamelled glass, glass with threads of gold, multicoloured glass, milk-glass, and imitation gemstones made of glass. As early as the 13th century, Murano glass and Murano beads were popular.
For platinum, gold, and silver jewelry, there are many techniques to create finishes. The most common are high-polish, satin/matte, brushed, and hammered. High-polished jewelry is by far 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 is commonly used to accentuate gemstones such as diamonds. Brushed finishes give the jewelry a textured look and are created by brushing a material against the metal, leaving "brush strokes." Hammered finishes are typically created by using a soft, rounded hammer and hammering the jewellery to give it a wavy texture.
Some jewelry is plated to give it a shiny, reflective look or to achieve a desired colour. Sterling silver jewelry 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 jewelry may also be plated with silver, gold, or rhodium for a more attractive finish.
Impact on society
Jewelry was used to denote status. In ancient Rome, for instance, only certain ranks could wear rings. Later, sumptuary laws dictated who could wear what type of jewelry, again based on rank. Cultural dictates have also played a significant role. For example, the wearing of earrings by Western men was considered effeminate in the 19th century and early 20th century. More recently, the display of body jewelry, such as piercings, has become a mark of acceptance or seen as a badge of courage within some groups but is completely rejected in others. Likewise, hip hop culture has popularised the slang term bling-bling, which refers to ostentatious display of jewelry by men or women.
Conversely, the jewelry industry in the early 20th century launched a campaign to popularise wedding rings for men, which caught on, as well as engagement rings for men, which did not, going so far as to create a false history and claim that the practice had medieval roots. By the mid 1940s, 85% of weddings in the U.S. featured a double-ring ceremony, up from 15% in the 1920s.