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Wearing Jewelry: Why Do We Do It?

Sean McCory

Posted on March 26 2018

Throughout the ages, in nearly every pocket of anthropological history you’ll uncover humans wearing jewelry. It is a tradition of ours hallmarking civilization; a symbol of complex thought and a window into expression. But why is this a shared trait amongst cultures of humans separated through time and space, oceans and moons? What is it about jewelry that humanity adorns?

 This is taken from our new collection celebrating summer the "Sole Estivo" collection! This gold earring stud, respectively named the "Butterfly Enchantment" gold vermeil earrings are plated in 14K gold and accented with a luscious cubic zirconia. When paired together, this piece embodies the beauty and grace of a butterfly. 

Jewelry always serves the specific needs of a society, but in general the answer comes down to the hierarchy one sits in the social ladder. In the early stages of humanity, bones, feathers and wood were admonished in decoration of a man or woman’s beauty. Jewelry was crafted with the intention of signifying one’s value over other mates, to monumentalize great feats and accomplishments, and in ceremonialism to honor higher powers. But what fascinating in this string of uses is the power attributed in jewelry to bring people to a higher plane of existence. This is an important note to track as we continue in our lineage of jewelry wearing.

 Our take on a subtle gold cross earring ornamentation. Plated in solid 14k gold, these "Dotted Cross" gold vermeil earring studs are embedded with cubic zirconia and forged from 925 sterling silver! 

As religious persecution swept the final breaths of the BC Era in humanity, jewelry became a badge for survival. The message of this time was clear: convert or die. And as the sweeping sensationalism of Christianity crusaded the Western world, so too did it’s taste in jewelry. Though the appearance of jewelry took form in the appreciation of God, its purpose hadn’t shifted. Elegant Gold crosses handcrafted from tradesman separated the clergy from those with lower metals like brass, bronze, or even wood. One’s material defined one’s relationship to God; in those times the closer one was to God the higher they were on the social pyramid.

 

As we shift into the contemporary ages, jewelry of all qualities has generally become more accessible to everyone. A defining attribute of today’s jewelry is in how it’s made! As manufacturing abilities increased during the industrial ages, it brought with it an entirely new way of making jewelry, for better or for worse. Craftsmanship has in some ways been traded for production and so to brings the issue of quality. But in today’s world people wear jewelry for all occasions. It could hold religious significance; it could be an ancestral artifact, a celebration of sexual orientation or an icon of wealth. In fact, a lot of people today invest their money in jewelry as a placeholder for economic inflation!

 Social activism also plays a part in the development of jewelry’s contemporary lineage. For much of the 20th century and before, gems, minerals, and precious metals have been extracted from impoverished countries while their people have been exploited for profit. But today, activist consumers are keeping an eye out on brands that still practice exploitative procedures when it comes to ethical manufacturing, gem sourcing and environmental sustainability. As designers and wholesalers, we’re proud to support these efforts and encourage all consumers everywhere to trace the lineage of the products they buy.

 Jewelry’s history is complicated, much like most things that shadow humanity. But one thing is certain: as people, we have a need to express ourselves beyond words. The desire to feel special extends to nearly every culture that has walked this earth; it is a universal trait of all of us. As contemporary designers, we feel it’s our responsibility to provide collections of jewelry that speak to all people and are accessible to all people.

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