Jewelry possesses a variety of meaning to various cultures, and to the individuals within those cultures. For many modern families living in Australia, the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom, it is often a fashion statement, a business investment, or a social class distinction. Additionally, for various individuals, jewelry is worn for superstitious reasons – such as good health, blessing, or protection. Others use it to convey their life story, to mark significant events in their lives – Pandora jewelry, anyone? Today, we even use silicone jewelry as a teething bling to accommodate our teething babies!
In fact, the use of Jewelry dates back many centuries, traced to the area of Africa – even dating back to the days of the Cro-Magnons. Granted, that the design quality of their Jewelry differs significantly from today's metal-based designs. Shells, animal teeth, and plant bearings were the ideal beads of the day. In 2006, three discovered shell beads – termed Nassarius – were dated as being 90,000 to 100,000 years old. Previous discoveries of shell beads confirmed that our ancestors have exercised creativity, and adorned themselves with a form of jewelry as far back as 50,000 years ago. However, researchers did not realize that the practice of Jewelry making went as far back as 100,000 years ago. It makes one wonder, what social factors caused our ancestors to adorn themselves with it? Did they use it for the same reasons we do today? They may not have had silicone jewelry, but perhaps they did use necklaces as teething bling the way we currently use it for the purposes of soothing teething babies. Perhaps.
Indeed, jewelry has played a bigger role in history. It is not simply a fashion statement, but was used a form of political and cultural statement as well. Historically Native Americans and Pacific Islanders made political statements through their jewelry. They created a profound visual presence that stated pride in their identity. Additionally, they used colorful jewelry to communicate with another – since they did not practice written communication at the time. Furthermore, in other parts of the world – such as Ancient India – jewelry-making contributed to the region's economic prosperity. The jewelries' craftsmanship was of the highest quality that it attracted merchants from all over the world into the Indian region. Today, Indian remains as a source for quality jewelry designs.
For many, the significance of the jewelry is nothing more than superficial. Who can blame them? It is difficult to stray from that thought as the modern world has basically debauched the value of it. We sometimes forget that they are often the source of religious, political and cultural significance; it has a confounding presence in some cultures – both positive and negative. We sometimes forget that jewelry has traveled a long way, having evolved alongside our ancestors.