What a Favourite Piece of Jewellery can Mean for a Woman!

For a lot of us, jewelry takes on different forms and meanings. There are your grandma’s old earrings. Your mom’s wedding ring. The necklace your high school boyfriend gave to you. And the first piece of expensive bling you bought with your own money. With the various memories associated with jewelry, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets aren’t simply accessories, but sentimental heirlooms evoking powerful nostalgia.

“My wedding ring and engagement ring mean the most to me. Not long after I got married, I had them melded together into one ring, and now it is also the only piece of jewelry that I wear day in and day out—so much so that my finger has permanent indents and callouses, which I love.

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I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think about one day passing this ring and diamond onto my daughter, and maybe she will pass it onto hers. That’s the great thing about jewelry. It’s forever.” – Coco Rocha

“The diamond pin on my hijab. With hijabs, everyone wears the same one. You throw it on and every girl looks the same. But today, I get to add my special twist to it and I’m wearing it way different than I’ve ever worn it before.

I just want to continue to find ways to make it individual to me. A hijab is something a lot of Muslim women wear, but obviously everybody wants to be an individual, so finding your own little twists is important.” – Halima Aden

The pieces of jewelry are vehicles to preserve and bring back memories. Often the whole personal history of the woman and her family was discussed through her jewelry case. Many times, most of the important dates of life were preserved in her jewelry case in the forms of jewelry pieces. No one claimed that they would not remember the happenings of their lives without jewelry, but it seemed to play an important role in their remembrance.

Jewelry may often protect us in a different way than clothing does. While clothes keep us warm and protect us from the sun and rain, according to my data, jewelry may protect us from diseases, bad luck, and misfortune, and also keep us connected to our kin. Being part of the kin, making us more than just individuals, pieces of jewelry belonging to the kin protect us from the outside world when needed.

Jewelry is a part of identity. Women wear pieces that connect them to their family, and they put the final touches on outfits with jewelry and show that they are individuals. An important reason for why pieces of jewelry can stay in families for centuries is to be found in their emotional attachments. These emotional attachments are strong because they are linked to the most important milestones in life, and to the most significant human relationships. For example, jewelry is part of many rites of passage that a woman faces in her life. When someone from the maternal line dies, her jewelry is often given to her children, who may pass it on to their children. This transition can be and is often planned decades ahead. In fact, the future of a piece of jewelry is every bit as meaningful as its history; at least it was discussed equally often. Women create ties across generations through their jewelry: a piece is important for a mother because she knows her grandmother bought it as a family heirloom, and she has plans to give it to her daughter. Ultimately, it is emotional connections of this kind that turn jewelry into carriers of power.

Jewelry has many kinds of roles in some of the most important rituals in women’s lives. These rites of passages include bat mitzvahs, confirmations and weddings, for example. However, pieces of jewelry also play an important role in more mundane social practices; they are often worn to gain powers for everyday life situations. Since pieces of jewelry are often worn directly on the skin, they become extensions of the woman’s body. Typically attachments work backwards in time: touching jewelry brings back earlier experiences related to it.

Jewelry is a crucial part of women’s possessions. Women need jewelry; they are necessities of life. Women from two countries, from very different socioeconomic backgrounds and with very different looking jewelry, view their jewelry in very similar ways. They are treasure boxes, cornucopias of personal and family history. These treasure boxes are filled not only with gold and precious stones, but also with private and public memories and secrets. They contain so much power and so many connections to past and future generations that they, ultimately, may be a woman’s most valuable possessions. So, is jewelry only an adornment? No. What could be further from the truth?

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