The question is rarely raised, yet deserves some attention: why do we wear jewelry?
Let’s admit it: jewels are loaded with meaning. Conveyors of information, messengers of love, gems serve a myriad of functions: they flesh out an identity (religious, financial, socio-economic or otherwise), they improve an appearance, they maintain or elevate self-confidence levels, and they reveal our subconscious personality. We can’t ignore the fact that jewelry is highly symbolic!
These days, social labels are becoming less rigid. In an increasingly more tolerant society, it is becoming easier to adopt a look for style’s sake. A few decades ago, it wasn’t that easy. For example, pearls used to be only worn by rich women. In ancient Rome, pearls were regarded as symbols of prestige and of wealth. As for the Greeks, they were equally crazy about pearls, adorning their costumes and their outfits with fresh water pearls. Today, anyone can wear pearls, which give off a strong sense of elegance and refinement. Time may fly, but it doesn’t affect jewelry!
Jewels serve many functions. They eroticize the female body, underlining the feminine aspect of each woman. For example, in the Creole countries, a number of traditions have to do with jewelry. When a baby girl is born, she is presented with a pair of earrings, a chain and an identity bracelet. Ornaments are very important in Creole countries, but elsewhere in the world as well. For example, consider the importance placed upon jewels in the Manusmriti, an ancient legal text revered by many Hindus. In it, we read: “When a woman shines with her ornaments, her family sparkles as well.”
Why do we wear jewels? As we have just seen, there are a myriad of reasons why we wear necklaces, a ring or a pair of earrings. Let’s make ourselves happy!