Jewellery has always been linked to beauty and personal adornment, but, at the same time, it is so much more. The most precious pieces have often been tied to a deeper meaning. Wedding bands symbolise love and commitment; class rings mark the wearer as part of a fraternity that cannot be broken. Beauty is part of it, but jewellery also ties people to groups, families and social organisations. This is a huge part of what makes it precious, showing why people have valued it for hundreds of thousands of years.
In fact, though jewellery no doubt existed prior to this time, some of the oldest pieces that have been recovered are estimated to be about 100,000 years old. These beads are crafted from Nassarius shells. Their existence shows that the historical roots stretch back long before written history, so jewellery has always connected with people in the exact same way that it does today.
One interesting aspect of the history of jewellery is that it has evolved differently in different parts of the world. There are similarities, of course, with necklaces and other pieces showing up in all continents. However, different cultures have embraced different styles over time. While European cultures have often utilised rings, for example, other cultures have been more drawn to anklets; some cultures consider facial piercings to be beautiful, while other cultures often shy away from anything so bold.
Engagement rings and eternity rings
In many cases, jewellery is given by couples, often as a sign of love. This is something that connects with almost all cultures in one way or another, with two of the most common types of jewellery being eternity rings and engagement rings. In modern culture, as in years past, engagement rings symbolise the vow that two people are making that they will marry one another, even if the ceremony is a long way off. Eternity rings, which often feature perfect symmetry and a full band of identical stones, are then used on future anniversaries to mark the occasion on which the two were wed. This is both a celebration of the time that has gone by and a symbol of the everlasting nature of the couple’s love.
In the world of jewellery, as in all fashion, trends are continually changing and shifting. Some, such as engagement rings, do hold fast through the test of time, though eternity rings are a bit newer. When looking at earrings, which have typically been identical, there is a new trend sweeping modern audiences in which different pieces will be worn in each ear, giving a more unbalanced appearance. Another common trend is to use older jewellery and re-purpose it; a grandmother’s engagement ring may be used as a bride’s wedding band, for instance, being fixed to her own engagement ring after the ceremony.
One thing is for certain, however: No matter how much the trends change, beautiful jewellery will always be a lasting and significant part of a person’s cultural experience.