Glitz & glamor, fashion & status. Jewellry has played an important role in society for centuries. Check out why in these fun facts about jewellry now!
When a man drops to one knee and pulls out a little box, there is no mistaking his intention. Every onlooker knows full well what is in that velvet box and the question that follows.
After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But it doesn’t stop at diamonds. Most girls would be thrilled with a sapphire, ruby, or emerald. Wearing any of these precious gems shows everyone you come in contact with that someone loves you. And that they spent a pretty penny on you too.
Do you know why we love necklaces, rings and earrings so much though? Well, you’re about to in these amazing facts about jewellry!
Wearers have used jewellry for thousands of years to show affection. But people also wear these shiny trinkets to show status, even up to royalty. The crown jewels in many countries are a highly coveted collection worth unknown amounts.
Some of these jewellry facts are just astounding though. For instance, did you know the earliest jewellry we know of is around 150,000 years old? That’s so old!As long as people could find a way to attach something pretty and shiny to themselves, they’ve been doing just that.
These fun facts about jewellry go back many centuries and span the entire globe. Keep reading to learn something new that will really surprise you!
15 Fun Facts About Jewellry
1. Jewellry has been around for a LONG time
Archaeologists discovered beads used for jewellry in a cave in Morroco. These beads date to around 150,000 years ago. Wearers used beads to express themselves in the way we’d use jewellry today.
Amber jewellry has been around for centuries too. However, amber itself can be 120 million years old. We’re not too sure whether early cave dwellers would’ve used amber as jewellry though!
2. Jewellry means “plaything”
The English word jewellry or jewelry comes from jewel, an Anglicized version of the Old French word “jouel,” which comes from the Latin word “jocale.” This Latin word literally means plaything.
Though we don’t recommend turning all your jewellry into playthings! We still can’t help twiddling our rings though.
3. It can ward off evil spirits
There are examples of many civilizations using jewellry in an attempt to ward off evil spirits or bad luck. The most famous example of this is the Egyptian Ankh. This cross and teardrop symbol represents life.
4. Jewellry is regional
Certain types of stones or metals are only found in certain areas.
Turquoise is only found in a few areas, mostly in the south eastern United States. This beautiful stone is recognizable as part of Native American culture and history.
In China and New Zealand, locals revere jade. People used this stone in worship ceremonies, in jewelry, and even in weapons too.
5. It’s all about spelling
In America and Canada, people write jewelry. However, other English-speaking countries write it jewellry. This is because Americans have simplified many words over the years, removing extra or unneeded letters. Both are technically correct though so it’s all down to where you come from!
6. Jewelry can be organic
Miners mine most precious stones from deep in the Earth. These inorganic materials are made from minerals, pressure, and time.
However, there are organic types used for jewellry too. For example, pearls, coral, and amber are all used in rings, earrings, and necklaces.
7. There are countless variations
Ready for a load more facts about jewellry? Then it’s time to learn about color variations.
People are familiar with clear diamonds, blue sapphires, and red rubies. But did you know sapphires can be green, violet, orange, purple, pink, or green? In fact, sapphires come in just about every color, except red. Red sapphires are technically rubies.
Diamonds can come in many colors as well. Blue, red, and green are the rarest natural colors. Topaz, garnet, and tourmaline all come in a wide variety of colors, as well.
As these gems form, different elements, environments, and other factors affect the ultimate color. Some stones even change color depending on light and temperature after forming. How cool is that!?
8. Jewellry tells a lot about a person
At different times and in different civilizations, jewellry could tell you a lot about someone. For example, in Ancient Rome, only high-ranking men could wear rings. These rings often had symbols that represented things.
Nobles and royalty continued that practice throughout history. Symbols of houses and countries were on rings that signified who the wearer was. Fathers passed rings down to sons when they took control.
Crown jewels are highly-coveted and priceless gems and metals that were only for the ruling family to wear. In England, this collection has more than 140 items and over 23,000 precious stones. One piece, the Cullinan Diamond, is 3,106 carats.
Jewellry can also tell you about a person’s values and personality. 200 years ago, society viewed men wearing earrings as effeminate. Today, it is completely normal for men to have earrings.
In some countries in Africa, incredibly large earrings are a sign of status. Men spend years stretching their ears to accommodate these large pieces.
9. Jewellry has an important role in literature
Jewellry in literature affects society. For example, people in Europe used to love opals. They were very valuable. Then, Sir Walter Scott wrote a novel where the protagonist had an opal that touched holy water. She died soon after.
This popular book led to a drastic decrease in the popularity of opal. To this day, people in many areas regard opals as unlucky. How about that as a random jewelry fact!
Need we even mention another book series entirely based around a certain gold ring? This one ring was created to rule all other rings. Basically, The Lord of the Rings is an epic tale based entirely on jewellry. Makes you think about the books in a very different way!
10. Jewellry styles are cyclical
Jewellry fashion, just like clothing, ebbs, and flows with time. What was popular 50 or 100 years ago will come back in an updated way.
Jewellry designs considered popular during the Victorian and Edwardian periods are making a comeback. Even Art Deco pieces are everywhere! So, hang onto your jewellry, your kids or grandkids will appreciate it.
11. Engagement rings are somewhat recent
Today, it is uncommon to hear of a couple getting engaged without an engagement ring. This ring is a promise between a couple, showing the world their intentions.
However, the first person to give their future bride an engagement ring was Maximilian of Austria in 1477. This leader was so in love with Mary of Burgundy that he gave her a ring to show his devotion to marrying her. The trend caught on, to say the least.
Today, more than 80% of engagement rings contain diamonds, far and away the most popular stone. All other gems only account for 13% of engagement rings.
12. Engagement rings are a multi-billion dollar industry today
Wedding rings have changed over the years
Most women wear their wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand. Romans believed the “vein of love” was there. But many cultures, including Germany and Russia, prefer the right hand.
Until fairly recently, men did not wear wedding rings at all. They gave rings to their brides to show they could financially take care of them. Each year in America, wedding rings account for 17 tons of gold.
The reason jewelers use gold in most rings is that people consider it the purest. So, gold perfectly symbolizes matrimony. Today, the engagement ring industry is worth billions.
13. Jewellry can be alive
We know of organic jewellry such as pearls and coral. While these pieces were made by or from living things, they are fully dead when turned into jewellry.
However, there are some places in the world that use live insects in jewellry fashion. Picture a bedazzled cockroach attached to your dress! We’ll pass on that one, thank you.
14. Male wedding rings are new
In the 20th century, the jewellry industry invented male wedding rings. The biggest companies were looking for ways to make more money. So, the idea of matching or coordinating his-and-hers wedding bands was born.
Today, it is uncommon to see a married man without a wedding band in America.
15. Graphite vs. Diamonds
Diamonds are most commonly associated with jewellry. And you have likely heard the jewellry fact that diamonds are the hardest thing on Earth. This true fact becomes all the more impressive when you know diamonds are made from graphite.
Graphite is incredibly soft. This element makes up the inner part of a pencil. It is so soft it leaves markings on everything it touches.
However, when nature exposes graphite to extreme heat and pressure, it forms a diamond, the hardest substance on Earth. The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond!
Diamonds are one of only two gems made in the mantel of the Earth. Though miners find diamonds in the crust like all other gems, they form around 100 miles below the surface of the Earth. Volcanic activity carries these gems, along with peridot, to the crust where miners find them a couple of miles from the surface at most.
Which of these fun facts about jewellry has intrigued you the most?
If there’s something we’ve missed, let us know your jewellry facts in the comments below and we’ll add them to our list!