Many of us wear jewelry every day without a second thought, but it’s an interesting question considering how this habit of jewelry wearing began. Of course, any answers can only be theories, but human nature today and yesteryear gives a glimpse as to the reason why the human race likes to adorn their bodies with jewelry.
According to the famous Maslow pyramid of our Hierarchy of Needs, humans have different levels of needs. At the very basic level of this chart sit our physiological needs, like hunger and thirst. Above this, is our need to ensure our safety, involving shelter and finding ways to stay safe from predators. Beyond these basic levels begin some of our higher needs, which just may give to the rise of jewelry wearing.
Wearing jewelry to appeal to potential mates.
One of our higher needs according to Maslow’s pyramid is our “social needs”, which also include our romantic interactions to some extent. Wearing jewelry may well have started as an attempt at beautification and attempting to enhance attractiveness for the purposes of securing a mate.
Wearing jewelry as a sign of social status.
The higher human need for social and self-esteem fulfillment sometimes comes with a desire for positive social recognition and status.
Social status is not only associated with wealth, success and skill, sometimes it’s also to do with “who you know”. Jewelry served its role here too as group members marked their affiliation with a certain group by wearing matching jewelry. Ancient groups and societies have done this in the past, and in modern times, groups like university fraternities may still wear jewelry for this purpose. The need to affiliate with a group in this way is partly for securing a certain social status and partly to secure our need to belong. Best friends or couples who each wear half of a heart on a pendant to demonstrate their relationship are demonstrating their joy at fulfilling their sense of belonging.
Wearing jewelry to satisfy the need of self-expression.
As our ancestors became more self-aware and began thinking more about who they are and their identity as individuals, jewelry became a means of self-expression; a means of showing the world more about who they were.
Today jewelry is still used as a means of self-expression. The designs you choose can be delicate or bold, colorful or subdued, intricate and expensive or economical and simple. Symbols on pieces of jewelry each carry their own meaning too, projecting a message about you to the world, whether you send out this messages intentionally or not. In a way, jewelry can be seen as a small reflection of a person’s personality.
Not only can wearing jewelry be an act of expressing who you are, giving jewelry can also serve as a way of telling people how you feel; expressing your love and affection for a person with a gesture rather than with words, or even expressing your emotions through a piece of jewelry’s colors and symbols.
Wearing religious symbols in jewelry is another type of self-expression, this time of your devotion and beliefs. It may additionally serve the purpose of helping a person feel more connected to the divine and it acts as a reminder to them to stay on their religious path.
Wearing jewelry in order to gain from its energy and power.
For thousands of years, human beings have attached significance and meaning to certain gemstones, metals and pieces of jewelry. Some jewelry pieces were purposefully made with gemstones or beads that were said to be good luck, whilst others were believed to have powers of healing, or serving other more specific purposes from enhancing well-being to bringing love into your life.
The concept of the birthstone also arose, as well as the theory of crystal healing and chakra color therapy, all of which can utilize the wearing of jewelry. Some of these ancient beliefs in the power of crystals, gemstones and metals still exists to this day. See a list for gems' healing properties here.
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