Way back when, ancient people wore jewelry made of feathers, bones, shells, and colored pebbles. These colored pebbles were gems and gems have been admired for their beauty and durability and made into adornments since the beginning of time. Many types of jewelry items still made today began as functional objects. Pins and brooches originated from the clasps that held clothing together. Rings and pendants were used for early seals and signs of identification, rank, and authority. The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago.
In early societies, jewelry was worn as amulets to protect against bad luck and illness. Jewelry later came to denote human connection and commitment. Slaves were made to wear bracelets to show who they belonged to. Wedding rings symbolized the commitment two people had for each other. At one time in Europe only the wealthy and high-ranking church officials were allowed to wear gemstones. This was a sign of wealth and power. The commoners wishing to mimic them would wear less expensive jewelry to add color and flash to their festive costumes. Some African tribes today still wear enormous lip plugs and distort the mouth of its wearer. This is to make the men look more fearsome in battle and women so ugly that the other tribes wouldn’t want to steal them. Have you seen the women in Africa with the long necks? This is done by adding a new ring every year from childhood. This deforms the upper body and makes the neck appear longer.
Today, in our culture, jewelry's ornate quality functions as simply a beauty enhancement that sometimes has a specific purpose. We wear jewelry to make us look and feel good. Some jewelry has a history, some have been bought or made the day before. Wedding rings, engagement rings, and birthstones all have a function, a reason for being, a meaning. Other jewelry tend to adorn our clothes, while often serving as a status symbol.
Handmade jewelry sort of combines the past with the present. Void of any mass production by machines, handmade jewelry is a creation which has been inspired and created by an artisan with loving, skilled hands. Handmade jewelry is special with each piece being unique.
"Jewelry has the power to be this one little thing that can make you feel unique". - Jennie Kwon of Jennie Kwon Designs
Website copyright - Nancy Smith, The Bead Designer