Jewellery orjewelry is a form of personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. With some exceptions, such asmedical alert bracelets or military dog tags, jewellery normally differs from other items of personal adornment in that it has no other purpose than to look appealing, but humans have been producing and wearing it for a long time – with 100,000-year-old beads made fromNassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewellery.
Jewellery may be made from a wide range of materials, but gemstones, precious metals, beads and shells have been widely used. Depending on the culture and times jewellery may be appreciated as a status symbol, for its material properties, its patterns, or for meaningful symbols. Jewellery has been made to adorn nearly every body part, from hairpins to toe rings.
Jewellery has been used to denote status. In ancient Rome, for instance, only certain ranks could wear rings;Later, sumptuary laws dictated who could wear what type of jewellery, again based on rank. Cultural dictates have also played a significant role. For example, the wearing of earrings by Western men was considered effeminate in the 19th century and early 20th century. More recently, the display of body jewellery, such aspiercings, has become a mark of acceptance or seen as a badge of courage within some groups but is completely rejected in others. Likewise, hip hop culture has popularised the slang term bling-bling, which refers to ostentatious display of jewellery by men or women.
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