Many of us wear jewellery without thinking about it. We perceive it as an essential part of our wardrobe; that an outfit is just incomplete without it. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m one of these! Others though see it as just a superficial adornment, frivolous, superfluous! So just why should we take jewellery seriously?
Where did it start?
Let’s first explore when we first started to wear jewellery. Its history began c 75000 years ago with the earliest pieces made from animal hide, leather or reeds decorated with things like animal teeth, bones, feathers, pebbles, shells etc. Many animals have inbuilt displays to attract the opposite sex so it may be that early jewellery was the equivalent of peacock feathers! Over the centuries we graduated, as they were discovered, to using precious metals and gemstones. From the Ancient Civilisations to the Royal Courts of Europe the designs became more elaborate and the workmanship more complex with ‘competitions’ to outdo each other as they displayed their symbols of wealth and status. Jewellery also became a symbol of love and the ability to provide for the chosen recipient.
Of course religion too played a big part in the design of jewellery with strict rules governing who could wear what in the worship of the Ancient gods, leading to the very specific symbols of faith used by the religions more prevalent today. As our ancestors became more self aware jewellery became a means of self expression and communicating identity and so here we are today still making jewellery out of almost every material known! Wherever you are in the world you will see jewellery with dramatic differences in style and appearance dependant upon the country, the culture and the materials available locally.
The power of jewellery
As well as being a status of wealth, for 1000’s of years jewellery has also been worn to gain from its energy and power – through talismans, healing crystals, amulets, chakra jewellery and so on. Ancient beliefs that still exist today suggest jewellery can protect, bring love, energy, luck and healing. Religions down the ages have used jewellery to express faith, to honour certain gods and be integral to various ceremonies. Symbols on pieces of jewellery can also project a message about the wearer to the world, a declaration of intent, love or family connection. Giving jewellery can serve as a very personal way of expressing love, affection, pride or admiration.
Major religious and other spiritual symbols
More than just an adornment
It has stood the test of time and shows no signs of ever going away. As a species we are conditioned with various needs. The basic being food, drink and shelter, followed by the need to reproduce but we also have ‘higher’ social needs which include romantic interaction, the need for social and self esteem. Just as wearing certain types of clothes can project an image, make the wearer look and feel more confident so too can jewellery. It can take an outfit from boring to fabulous. Designs can be delicate or bold, colourful or subdued, intricate and expensive or simple and economical.
Jewellery can be seen as a reflection of a personality, expressing who you are (or who you would like to be!). It is personal and meaningful, a communication of style. It can create memories, be transformative. It is so much more than just an accessory, it is an art form and one of the most important and nowadays affordable, components of your wardrobe but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what some other say…….
“Jewellery is the most transformative thing you can wear” …………
Iris Apfel, accidental icon
“Jewellery has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique”……….
Elizabeth Taylor, actress and icon
“Jewellery is like the perfect spice – it always complements whats already there”………
Diane Von Furstenberg, Belgian American fashion designer
“Accessories are what, in my opinion, pull the whole look together and make it unique”……..
Yves St Laurent, French fashion designer
“Jewellery tells a story without even a single word – a non verbal communication of style”………
Michael, Rosey West, jewellery designer
“I see bold accessories as a woman’s armour”……..
Rachel Zoe, fashion designer
“I’ve always thought of accessories as the exclamation point of a woman’s outfit”…….
Michael Kors, fashion designer
“Clothes without accessories is like sex without orgasm!”…….
Robert Lee Morris, renowned jewellery designer and sculptor
“Jewellery is the last thing left of most civilisations”……..
Theo Fennel, British jewellery designer
Now tell me what YOU think!