The word jewelry is derived from Latin word jocale, means plaything. But it is the most ancient form of body ornamentation. In ancient times, jewelry was used to be made from bone, animal teeth, shells, wood, carved stones, etc. A specific piece was made for each part of the body. Apart from functional use, jewelry was a symbol of wealth, status and membership. It had been used to move wedding dowries, to keep large amount of wealth or to just for artistic display.
With the growing influx of designer or art jewelry, people not only love to wear it but also dont mind spending lavishly on it. Such designs are made with coins, gemstones, precious stones, etc. and they are set into precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, or white gold. These days most of the gold jewelry is made of an alloy of gold, stating its purity in karat by displaying a number followed by K.
American gold jewelry are of 10 K which is 41.7% gold. Higher purity levels are 22K which is 91.6 % pure and 24K which is 99.9% pure and these levels are used in Asia, Middle East and Africa. For silver jewelry, silver sterling or 92.5% fine silver is used. Besides, the low-priced jewelry is also available. Such jewelries are made with glass, semiprecious stones, wood, shells, bone, ivory, etc. Beads, made of glass, gemstones, metals, clay, polymer clay and wood, are also used to make bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and rings.
Among the precious stones, diamonds are said to be the best friends of women. There are other gemstones also like amethyst, ruby, emerald, etc. These gemstones are set into gold, silver and platinum with different techniques to get different finishing such as high-polished or matt. Brushed finishing gives jewelry a soft look, while hammered finishing gives a wavy texture.
Jewelry posed different significance for different cultures. Like in Rome, people with certain ranks were allowed to wear rings. In other case, during 19th and 20th centuries, wearing of earrings by men was considered effeminate. According to recent culture, piercing of body and wearing rings there has become a symbol of courage, while other cultures are against it. Wearing of jewelry has got religious importance too. According to Hinduism, married women should wear necklace of golden and black beads, whereas in Islam, men should wear gold.
The history of jewelry dates back to thousands of years. The first signs of jewelry were found, 40,000 years back, in Cro-Magnons who originated from Middle East and migrated to Europe. They used to make jewelry with bones, teeth, stone hung etc. Copper jewelry traces back to 7000 years. In ancient Egypt, jewelry making is 3000- 5000 years old. They preferred gold to other materials and used colored glass in place of gems. Then the signs of jewelry found in other places too like Mesopotamia, Greece, Italy, India, and China and all over.
The trend of modern jewelry started in 1940s at the end of World War II. George Jensen and other designers propogated the idea of wearable jewelry using different materials like Precious Metal Clay, plastics, semi precious stones, and coloring techniques. Artisans also played important role in setting trends in jewelry. Now the jewelry designing has become a source of money and to satisfy the passion of art.
According to recent studies, American market holds the largest place with a market share of 30.8%, Japan, India and China and the Middle East each with 8 - 9% and finally Italy with 5%. Also it is predicted that there will be dramatic change in the statistics of market share by 2015, having India and China in the topmost position.
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