Throughout time, man has sought to decorate the human body and this has manifested as body painting, tattoos, piercing and for those a little squeamish or less brave, decoration by the wearing of adornments generally known as jewelry.
In ancient times, jewelry may have been simple pieces made from natural materials such as shells plucked from the seashore or pebbles worn smooth and polished by years of being tumbled along the sea or river bed. These would have been strung together perhaps as necklaces or wrist pieces as early examples of a charm bracelet. Nature gives up so many beautiful things that can be used to make items such as earrings, rings, bracelets, hair pieces and so the list goes on.
Skilled craftsmen would have laboured for many hours intricately carving small pieces of bone, ivory or wood to fashion exquisite unique pieces of jewelry, no two of which would ever be the same.
To ancient man, jewelry was not just decorative but very symbolic and the wearer often held the belief that these trinkets were lucky, that they would ward off evil spirits or that they would even help them defeat their enemies in battle.
To the Romans and Ancient Egyptians, wearing of jewelry and the type of jewelry worn was a direct indication of a person’s standing in the community. Large heavy ornate pieces forged from solid precious metals such as gold, encrusted with precious or semi precious gemstones were a sign to say – look how rich and important I am.
Styles and materials may have changed over time but the wearing of jewelry has always been a practice adopted by both men and women.
Over the years, there has even been functional jewelry such as the medical alert items, which have saved many peoples lives. Identity type bracelets worn by a person who has a medical condition or requires vital medication have helped medical personnel decide on appropriate treatment when faced with a person who has been rendered incapable of communicating because of for instance an accident.
Over recent years, popular items have been the brightly coloured rubber bracelets sold in aid of various charities, which demonstrate that the wearer supports that cause and has donated money to help raise funds for that cause. Some traditionalists may not regard these strictly as being jewelry although who said that the article had to be expensive or made from precious metals to qualify for the name.
In modern times, we have seen a huge increase in the type and variety of jewelry available and the discovery of new strong and lightweight metals such as titanium or other alloys has given rise to new many new possibilities. Man made materials such as acrylics and plastics also lend themselves very well to the manufacture of affordable, colourful jewelry and in the shops you can see many examples of wonderful, bright and modern fun items, to be worn on any occasion as the mood takes.
Whilst most of us choose to spend a little extra on that special piece of jewelry such as our wedding rings, we now have an endless choice of less expensive everyday jewelry which we can change to suit our mood or match our outfit.
Who knows what the future holds with regard to the designs and materials we will have at our disposal to make attractive pieces of jewelry to be worn by both men and women. One thing is for certain and that is that there will be a never ending supply with something to suit all tastes and all budgets from the most traditional to the most contemporary.