Jewelry has been around for about as long as people have; mollusks appearing to have been punctured in order to be strung have been found in South Africa dating back to the Stone Age. Other items such as bones, animal teeth, stone, wood, and shell were used for this early jewelry. It is speculated that the jewelry may first have been used as fasteners for clothing, but became more of an ornamentation as time went on.
Over the years, jewelry has not only been used as ornamentation, but also as representations of spiritual and religious beliefs, symbols of status and wealth, and even as protection against evil or harm and as healing devices. Today, jewelry is highly accessible to almost anyone, being composed of a variety of materials both expensive and affordable. People may wear symbols on necklaces to establish a religious belief or for cultural meaning, such as a wedding ring, or may wear something for self-expression or fun, such as a princess crown ring.
The Beginning of Modern Jewelry
While early man chose to adorn himself with jewelry composed of what was attainable and easy to work with, it was the Ancient Egyptians who receive credit for modern jewelry. Around 3,000 B.C. the Egyptians worked with a variety of metals, gemstones, and glass to create bracelets, broaches, earrings, headpieces, and more. At that same time, however, metal jewelry was also being composed in China. For both cultures, jewelry pieces were not only used for ornamentation, but were often used to create symbols of cultural meaning.
Rings and Symbolism
One particular piece of jewelry that is often associated with symbolism is the ring. You have probably watched movies where those of a lower rank were asked to kiss the rings of high priests or kings. Certain religions may use the ring to show devotion to their beliefs. Wearing rings on certain fingers can have different connotations in different cultures. For example, it is a common practice in much of the world to wear a wedding ring on the fourth or “ring” finger of the left hand.
This practice is thought to be traced back to the Romans, who adopted wedding rings from the Ancient Egyptians. The Romans believed that the ring finger contains the love vein in a woman, which links her heart to her finger. Though today the rings can be worn by men or women to establish their devotion to their partner, the Romans used it as a sign of ownership over the woman, and sometimes slaves would wear them as well.
Europeans established the diamond as the chosen stone for symbolizing a clear, everlasting love, but engagement and wedding rings are highly varied in design today. You may even wish to use the aforementioned princess crown ring in place of the traditional wedding band!