Jewellery is an item of personal adornment, such as a necklace, ring, brooch or bracelet, that is worn by a person. It may be made from gemstones or precious metals, but may be from any other material, and may be appreciated because of geometric or other patterns, or meaningful symbols. Earrings and other body rings are also considered to be jewellery, while body art is not. Also, items affixed to a garment, such as buttons, are not considered to be jewellery, even if they are unusual and highly decorative. Also, items such as belts and handbags etc. are not considered to be jewellery, and are considered to be accessories.
Jewellery has been made to adorn nearly every body part, from hairpins to toe rings and many more types of jewellery. While high-quality jewellery is made with gemstones and precious metals, such as silver or gold, there is also a growing demand for art jewellery where design and creativity is prized above material value. In addition, there is the less costly costume jewellery, made from lower value materials and mass-produced. Other variations include wire sculpture (wrap) jewellery, using anything from base metal wire with rock tumbled stone to precious metals and precious gemstones.
Form and function
Jewellery has been used for a number of reasons:
Currency, wealth display and storage,
Functional use (such as clasps, pins and buckles)
Symbolism (to show membership or status)
Protection (in the form of amulets and magical wards),
Most cultures have at some point had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewellery. Numerous cultures move wedding dowries in the form of jewellery, or create 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 be symbolic of group membership, as in the case of the Christian crucifix or Jewish Star of David, or of status, as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice of married people wearing a wedding ring.
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 stylized versions of the Throne Verse in Islamic art).
Although artistic display has clearly been a function of jewellery from the very beginning, the other roles described above tended to take primacy. It was only in the late 19th century.