Jewellery or jewelry consists of small decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes, and the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal, often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewellery, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used. It is one of the oldest type of archaeological artefact – with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewellery. The basic forms of jewellery vary between cultures but are often extremely long-lived; in European cultures the most common forms of jewellery listed above have persisted since ancient times, while other forms such as adornments for the nose or ankle, important in other cultures, are much less common. Historically, the most widespread influence on jewellery in terms of design and style have come from Asia.
The Daria-i-Noor (meaning: Sea of Light) Diamond from the collection of the national jewels of Iran at Central Bank of Islamic Republic of Iran
Jewellery may be made from a wide range of materials. Gemstones and similar materials such as amber and coral, precious metals, beads, and shells have been widely used, and enamel has often been important. In most cultures jewellery can be understood as a status symbol, for its material properties, its patterns, or for meaningful symbols. Jewellery has been made to adorn nearly every body part, from hairpins to toe rings, and even genital jewellery. The patterns of wearing jewellery between the sexes, and by children and older people can vary greatly between cultures, but adult women have been the most consistent wearers of jewellery; in modern European culture the amount worn by adult males is relatively low compared with other cultures and other periods in European culture.
The word jewellery itself is derived from the word jewel, which was anglicized from the Old French "jouel", and beyond that, to the Latin word "jocale", meaning plaything. In British English, Indian English, New Zealand English, Hiberno-English, Australian English, and South African English it is spelled jewellery, while the spelling is jewelry in American English. Both are used in Canadian English, though jewelry prevails by a two to one margin. In French and a few other European languages the equivalent term, joaillerie there, may also cover decorated metalwork in precious metal such as objets d'art and church items, not just objects worn on the person.
Jewelry design is the art or profession of designing and creating jewelry. This is one of civilization’s earliest forms of decoration, dating back at least seven thousand years to the oldest known human societies in Mesopotamia and Egypt. The art has taken many forms throughout the centuries, from the simple beadwork of ancient times to the sophisticated metalworking and gem cutting known in the modern day.
Before an article of jewelry is created, design concepts are rendered followed by detailed technical drawings generated by a jewelry designer, a professional who is trained in the architectural and functional knowledge of materials, fabrication techniques, composition, wearability and market trends.
Traditional hand-drawing and drafting methods are still utilized in designing jewelry, particularly at the conceptual stage. However, a shift is taking place to computer-aided design programs like Rhinoceros 3D and Matrix. Whereas the traditionally hand-illustrated jewel is typically translated into wax or metal directly by a skilled craftsman, a CAD model is generally used as the basis for a CNC cut or 3D printed 'wax' patter to be used in the rubber molding or lost wax casting processes.
Once conceptual/ideation is complete, the design is rendered and fabricated using the necessary materials for proper adaptation to the function of the object. For example, 24K gold was used in ancient jewelry design because it was more accessible than silver as source material. Before the 1st century many civilizations also incorporated beads into jewelry. Once the discovery of gemstones and gem cutting became more readily available, the art of jewelry ornamentation and design shifted. The earliest documented gemstone cut was done by Theophilus Presbyter (c. 1070 - 1125), who practiced and developed many applied arts and was a known goldsmith. Later, during the 14th Century, medieval lapidary technology evolved to include cabochons and cameos.
Early jewelry design commissions were often constituted by nobility or the church to honor an event or as wearable ornamentation. Within the structure of early methods, enameling and repoussé became standard methods for creating ornamental wares to demonstrate wealth, position, or power. These early techniques created a specific complex design element that later would forge the baroque movement in jewelry design.
Jewelry design has remained relatively constant over the years. The fundamental references, production techniques, and materials from ages ago are still being used to this day. Yet the recent rapid developments in technology and machinery have allowed artists easier alternatives to some of the old methods. These advancements have also transformed the significance and social weight jewelry holds.
The twentieth century is where this rudimentary change in the public’s attitude towards jewelry design and function is most apparent. Traditionally jewels were seen as sacred and precious; however, notably beginning in the 1900s, jewelry has started to be objectified. Additionally, no one trend can be seen as the history of jewelry design for this time period. Throughout the twentieth century jewelry design underwent drastic and continual style changes: Art Nouveau (1900-1918), Art Deco (1919-1929), International Style & organicism (1929-1946), New Look & Pop (1947-1967), Globalization, Materialism, and Minimalism. Jewelry design trends are highly affected by the economic and social states of the time. The boundaries of styles and trends tend to blur together and the clear stylistic divisions of the past are harder to see during the twentieth century.
The history of jewelry, craft vs. high art, and the jewelry market are just a few subjects that contemporary jewelry designers are working with today. Jewelry design is always continuous and fluid while simultaneously timeless.
Jewelry form and function
Humans have used jewellery for a number of different reasons:
1.functional, generally to fix clothing or hair in place, or to tell the time (in the case of watches)
2.as a marker of social status and personal status, as with a wedding ring
3.as a signifier of some form of affiliation, whether ethnic, religious or social
4.to provide talismanic protection (in the form of amulets)
5.as an artistic display
6.as a carrier or symbol of personal meaning – such as love, mourning, or even luck
Most cultures at some point have had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewellery. Numerous cultures store wedding dowries in the form of jewellery or make jewellery as a means to store or display coins. Alternatively, jewellery has been used as a currency or trade good; an example being the use of slave beads.
Many items of jewellery, such as brooches and buckles, originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.
Jewellery can also symbolise group membership (as in the case, of the Christian crucifix or the Jewish Star of David) or status (as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice of married people wearing wedding rings).
Wearing of amulets and devotional medals to provide protection or ward off evil is common in some cultures. These may take the form of symbols (such as the ankh), stones, plants, animals, body parts (such as the Khamsa), or glyphs (such as stylised versions of the Throne Verse in Islamic art).