Throughout history, ornamentation in the form of jewelry has crossed all barriers. Worn by the elite or the common, rich or poor, male or female, jewelry has been used to express one’s personality and personal view of the world. Whether it is handcrafted by an artisan with the finest materials, or is found in the discount bin at the local mall, jewelry has value to the wearer because it allows them to display a part of themselves to the world. Examining the journey of jewelry through history helps one appreciate that jewelry is truly an art form.
The earliest forms of jewelry may not look like much to us today. They mostly consist of bones or shells on a string. But what it represents is as current as the bejeweled headpieces that walk the runways today. Those shells or bones on a string show abstract thought. The people of ancient times desired to express themselves in a way animals did not. As time went on, the ornaments became more and more elaborate. Ancient Egyptians wore gold items covered in precious stones. While the materials used varied greatly in terms of material value, the emotional value was the same; people wanted to express themselves.
The Not So Distant Past
Fast forward a few millennium to a time period not so far behind us. Antique jewelry is wonderfully intricate and calls to mind visions of ballrooms filled with lords and ladies. Starting in the 1700’s jewelry began to take on the shape of the world, being influenced by queens, world wars, and the economy. As time progressed, jewelry became more a way to express your own personal view of the world. New techniques were invented, new materials discovered, stones cut into new and daring shapes. Regardless of the materials, the message was the same as those ancient strings of shells; people wanted to express themselves.
The Value of Jewelry Today
Today, jewelry comes in many forms. Like the past, there are many materials it can be made from. Some pieces are valued at millions of dollars. But the pieces that mean the most to us as an individual aren’t necessarily the most expensive. When we are truly striving to express ourselves, we will search every kind of shop to find that perfect piece. If it’s made of plastic and only costs a dollar, we don’t care as long as it allows us to show the world who we are. This is why jewelry can be called art. Art is subjective. Its material value can be determined by many factors. But often, the pieces that we value as individuals have very little to do with how much money it’s worth. We value it because it speaks to us personally and it allows us to express ourselves.
Whether you prefer strings of shells or intricate designs cast in precious metals, never lose sight of what really makes a piece of jewelry valuable; what it allows you to tell the world about yourself.
Jessica Kane is a professional writer who has an interest in arts and crafts, DIY, and other handmade products. She currently writes for Indian Traders, a leading vendor of native american blankets and jewelry.