Jewellery/jewelry – a funny word with a serious history

And a tricky one to spell. And yes, there are 2 different spellings: jewellery (the UK version, which is the one I use) and jewelry.

Jewellery, according to Wikipedia, is from the word ‘jewel’ which in turn was the anglicized version of ‘jouel’ which was Old French. If we delve deeper, it comes from the Latin ‘jocale’ which means plaything.

And jewellery is a plaything. It’s used to adorn the body, whether that’s the ears, neck, wrist, hands or other body parts.

Jewellery has also had many other uses throughout the ages though, whether it’s as currency, function (in the form of holding garments together), artistic display, protection in the form of amulets, as a symbol of status or in the form of currency. Can you imagine that last one in today’s society? “Hey, I need to buy a bicycle – will you accept 2 gold rings?”

That particular trade would not have been popular in Ancient Rome, where only people of certain rank could wear rings. But even predating the Romans, the Egyptians preferred working with gold for its various properties including luxury, rarity and flexibility. They liked jewellery so much that the dead were often entombed with large amounts of jewellery, to demonstrate their particular status to the gods.

Even before the Egyptians though, were the Africans and Cro-Magnons who used bits of shell or bones for necklaces and bracelets.

And if you think about it, things have come full circle: they used to create their own jewellery by hand (rather than have a middleman do it) – just like you can with StyleRocks!


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