Jewelry, a personal ornament such as a bracelet, necklace or ring, is made from jewels, precious metals or other substance. During earlier times, jewelry was created for more practical uses, such as pinning clothes together and storage of wealth. Today, jewelry is used exclusively for fashion and decoration. One of the oldest forms of body adornment, jewelry was usually made for people of high importance to show their status. In several cases they were even buried in it.
The first pieces of jewelry were made from natural materials, such as animal teeth, bone, carved stone, shell and wood. High-quality and artistic pieces are made with gemstones and precious metals. Less-costly costume jewelry is mass-produced and made from less-valuable materials. There are also new variations which include wire sculpture jewelry, which uses anything from base metal wire with rock tumbled stone to precious metals and pretty gemstones.
In history, jewelry has been used to define status. During the ancient times of Rome, only certain ranks could wear rings. Later, sumptuary laws dictated who could wear what type of jewelry, based on rank again. The wearing of earrings by Western men in the 19 th and early 20 th centuries was considered effeminate and bizarre. By the early 20 th century, the jewelry industry launched a campaign to popularize wedding rings for men. Engagement rings for men aren’t as popular. By the end of World War II, 85% of United States weddings featured a double-ring ceremony.
A precious metal is less reactive than most elements chemically. Precious metals have high luster and have higher melting points than other metals. A precious metal was important as currency one time in history. Now, regarded chiefly as industrial and investment commodities, precious metals are used in art, jewelry and coinage. Other precious metals include palladium, osmium, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium and platinum. Platinum is the most widely traded.
As of March 11, 2007, palladium valued at $350 USD/ounce, gold at $650 USD/ounce and platinum at $1250 USD/ounce. Rhodium is actually the most expensive of the precious metals at $6200 USD/ounce. Silver is much less expensive at $12.82 USD/ounce, but is normally considered precious metal for coinage and jewelry. The demand for precious metals is driven by their role as investments and a store of value, as well as practical use.
Fashion and jewelry go hand in hand with many of today’s celebrities, luminaries and famous personalities. Charles Lewis Tiffany, Harry Winston and William Spratling are three of the 21 st century’s most famous jewelers among the stars and those who truly value fashionable jewelry