Jewelry or ornament is worn for personal beautification and dates back to over 100,000 years. It originated in the form of beads made from shell which happens to be the oldest body ornament. Jewelry made of precious metals, gem stones or other natural materials is a prized possession.
Each eye catching piece of jewelry is classified under traditional and contemporary designs. Today jewelry is exclusively used as a decorative item where as during earlier times it was created for performing practical function such as pinning clothes together, storage purposes or was an index of wealth and status.
In ancient times natural materials such as bones, animal teeth, wood, shell and carved stones were transformed into attractive items. These were worn as jewelry adornment in almost all body parts from the tip of the head to toes. Today, stunning pieces of ear rings, nose rings, bangles and necklaces, etc. made of fabulous gem stones, gold and platinum is in high demand.
Contemporary jewelry, displaying creativity and design, along with affordable costume jewelry from less expensive mass produced materials has also made inroads in the jewelry market. The latest trend includes wire (wrap) jewelry which uses wire as base metal along with tumbled stone to precious metal and gemstones.
Jewelry has many uses, the primary use of this ornament is that it is used as a form of currency and displays the owner’s wealth. It has other functional uses such as clasps, pins, buckles or brooches, etc. or simply used as status symbol or as a form of protection such as amulets which is believed to ward off evil spirits.
In the ancient as well as in modern times, many practice the custom of amassing wealth in the form of jewelry. Wedding dowries centers on jewelry exchange, as a source of future security or just as a trading source. Jewelry also symbolizes group membership or represents status such as a ring connotes married people. Jewelry is usually crafted in gold, silver, white gold, platinum or palladium.
American or European gold jewelry`s purity is stated in carats. The American gold jewelry has at least 10K purity while European ornaments have 9K purity where as 22K or 24K jewelry of highest quality and is confined to the Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries.
Platinum alloy range of jewelry has 90% to 95% purity while silver jewelry is basically made of sterling silver. In costume jewelry, stainless steel, glass, enamel, natural clay and other such materials are primarily used. Beaded jewelry often constitutes necklaces, ear rings, bracelets and belts.
The beads are of various sizes and they often adorn the neck as a beaded collar or wrist in the form beaded bracelet. This jewelry type was dominant during the Victorian era; however, a strong resurgence has been noticed in most countries, especially in the African regions.
Silversmiths and goldsmiths craftsmanship has produced many collector’s items. Diamonds are the most popular gem stones used in crafting stunning jewelry items ranging from rings to tiaras. Other precious and semi precious gem stones such as emerald, sapphire, ruby, jade and quartz, etc. have all been used to produce eye catching and attractive ornaments. Culture has always molded the trend in jewelry from ancient history to the current times.
Recently, bold jewelry such as piercings is in vogue while the hip hop culture has popularized gaudy ornaments. Jewelry is frequently offered as gifts and worn by men as well as women. The U.S. has the largest jewelry market in the world but it is believed that by the next decade the share of India and China will grow dramatically.