The Daria-i-Noor (meaning: Sea of Light) Diamond from the collection of the national jewels of Iran at Central Bank of Islamic Republic of Iran. Mined in India, originally owned by the Hindu Kakatiya dynasty, and later passed to successive dynasties; and finally bought to Iran by Nader Shah.
Diamond temptation design.

Jewellery (British English) or jewelry (American English)[1] consists of small decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western perspective, the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal, often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewellery, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used. It is one of the oldest type of archaeological artefact – with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewellery.[2] The basic forms of jewellery vary between cultures but are often extremely long-lived; in European cultures the most common forms of jewellery listed above have persisted since ancient times, while other forms such as adornments for the nose or ankle, important in other cultures, are much less common.

Jewellery may be made from a wide range of materials. Gemstones and similar materials such as amber and coral, precious metals, beads, and shells have been widely used, and enamel has often been important. In most cultures jewellery can be understood 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, and even genital jewellery. The patterns of wearing jewellery between the sexes, and by children and older people can vary greatly between cultures, but adult women have been the most consistent wearers of jewellery; in modern European culture the amount worn by adult males is relatively low compared with other cultures and other periods in European culture.

The word jewellery itself is derived from the word jewel, which was anglicised from the Old French "jouel",[3] and beyond that, to the Latin word "jocale", meaning plaything. In British English, Indian English, New Zealand English, Hiberno-English, Australian English, and South African English it is spelled jewellery, while the spelling is jewelry in American English.[1] Both are used in Canadian English, though jewelry prevails by a two to one margin. In French and a few other European languages the equivalent term, joaillerie, may also cover decorated metalwork in precious metal such as objets d'art and church items, not just objects worn on the person.

Form and function

Kenyan man wearing tribal beads.

Humans have used jewellery for a number of different reasons:

  • functional, generally to fix clothing or hair in place
  • as a marker of social status and personal status, as with a wedding ring
  • as a signifier of some form of affiliation, whether ethnic, religious or social
  • to provide talismanic protection (in the form of amulets)[4]
  • as an artistic display
  • as a carrier or symbol of personal meaning – such as love, mourning, or even luck

Most cultures at some point have had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewellery. Numerous cultures store wedding dowries in the form of jewellery or make jewellery as a means to store or display coins. Alternatively, jewellery has been used as a currency or trade good;[5] an example being the use of slave beads.[6]

Many items of jewellery, such as brooches and buckles, originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.[7]

Jewellery can also symbolise group membership (as in the case, of the Christian crucifix or the Jewish Star of David) or status (as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice of married people wearing wedding rings).

Wearing of amulets and devotional medals to provide protection or ward off evil is common in some cultures. These may take the form of symbols (such as the ankh), stones, plants, animals, body parts (such as the Khamsa), or glyphs (such as stylised versions of the Throne Verse in Islamic art).[8]

Other Languages
Acèh: Ayeuen
Afrikaans: Juweliersware
አማርኛ: ጌጣጌጥ
العربية: مجوهرات
aragonés: Choya
armãneashti: Giuvair
asturianu: Xoyería
বাংলা: অলঙ্কার
Bân-lâm-gú: Chu-pó
български: Бижутерия
brezhoneg: Bravig
català: Joieria
Чӑвашла: Ахах-мерчен
čeština: Šperk
chiShona: Zvinemeso
dansk: Smykke
Deutsch: Schmuck
Ελληνικά: Κόσμημα
español: Joyería
Esperanto: Juvelarto
فارسی: جواهر
français: Joaillerie
galego: Xoiaría
한국어: 주얼리
हिन्दी: आभूषण
hrvatski: Nakit
Bahasa Indonesia: Perhiasan
íslenska: Skartgripur
italiano: Gioielleria
עברית: תכשיט
Basa Jawa: Rerenggan
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಆಭರಣಗಳು
ქართული: სამკაული
Kiswahili: Mapambo ya vito
Kreyòl ayisyen: Bijou
kurdî: Cewer
latviešu: Juvelierdarbs
lietuvių: Papuošalas
Limburgs: Seeraod
македонски: Накит
മലയാളം: ആഭരണം
मराठी: दागिने
Bahasa Melayu: Perhiasan
Nederlands: Sieraad
Nedersaksies: Opsmuk
नेपाल भाषा: तिसा
norsk: Smykke
norsk nynorsk: Smykke
occitan: Joielariá
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Zeb-ziynat buyumlari
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਟੂੰਮਾਂ
پنجابی: ٹُومباں
polski: Biżuteria
português: Joalharia
Runa Simi: Achala
සිංහල: ආභරණ
Simple English: Jewellery
slovenčina: Šperk
slovenščina: Nakit
српски / srpski: Накит
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Nakit
suomi: Koru
svenska: Smycke
தமிழ்: அணிகலன்
తెలుగు: ఆభరణాలు
Türkçe: Mücevher
Türkmençe: Zergärçilik
українська: Ювелірні прикраси
اردو: زیور
Tiếng Việt: Trang sức
ייִדיש: צירונג
粵語: 珠寶
中文: 珠寶