Jewelry has existed for thousands of years in many different forms, and each culture treats jewelry in its own unique way. This evolution has brought us many of the customs and traditions that we see in modern-day surrounding jewelry. Each culture’s religion, tradition, and way of life has influenced the way that we treat jewelry and the way that we recognize its significance. By understanding how all of the different cultures and people treat jewelry, maybe we can get a better understanding of why we wear jewelry today.
BEADS IN AFRICA
Beads in African jewelry played as much a role in fashion and beauty as it does in communication. Depending on color shape and size, these beads to denote societal status, religious affiliation, certain tribal ceremonies, and of course membership to certain tribes. Outside of just status, these beads could also communicate relationship status and family membership. The beaded jewelry in Africa could be made from many different materials all of which have different values and importance. From natural materials such as shells, stones, and even ostrich eggs to more precious materials, this jewelry communicated so much that it was a part of every single day for the people that wore it.
JADE IN CHINA
Jade is the most notable type of jewelry in Chinese culture and has been around for thousands of years. Jade is so valuable to this culture that it can sometimes be worth more than precious metals like gold and precious stones like diamonds. Due to its value and durability, Jade has lasted through the millennia in Chinese culture, and many people still, to this day, proudly display Jade jewelry and other family heirlooms in their home proudly. Some believe that wearing Jade can even ward off evil spirits and bring luck, which is a very powerful spiritual reason to wear jewelry.
KOMBOLOI IN GREECE
While the Greeks can be credited with many things from the modern idea of democracy to yogurt, they were also one of the first cultures to use a form of prayer beads called Komboloi, much like a modern-day rosary. Unlike other jewelry, this string of beads was used only by Greek monks and strictly for religious purposes to keep track of their prayers. This jewelry also wasn’t really worn, and only used by men. Since this time, the religious ideas surrounding these beads have fallen off, however, this form of jewelry still exists in Greek culture now commonly referred to as “Worry Beads.” Much like a stress ball, people fiddle with these beads when they are stressed. They are often made out ofamber or glass but can be made from anything.
Jewelry has evolved quite a bit, in all cultures, but the ideas surrounding the communication, religious implications, and spiritual meaning has stayed and can be seen in modern practice as well. American’s to this day use jewelry to denote marriage, spiritual beliefs and religious affiliations… although the materials that are used to make this jewelry have evolved since these ancient times. We now have the capability to grow perfectly identical diamonds in a lab, as evidenced by Lark and Berry that sells beautiful lab-grown diamonds in everything from earrings to engagement rings.
Times have changed, but culture lasts forever.