II : GEMS AND JEWELRY (Continued…)


        In current times one of the strongest motives for wearing jewelry has to do with sentimental reasons. The durability of jewelry helps us mark and. keep a special moment with us through time. This is especially true of certain times that are considered rites of passage. At special moments in our lives we can expect to receive gifts of jewelry. The most revered current custom is the engagement ring. In this instance a piece of jewelry helps mark the passage from being a single unmarried person to becoming a married person. The gift of a mixture of precious metal and precious stone, which are rare items and expensive items, is a demonstration of the love and esteem of the giver. The durability of the jewelry gift is a symbol of the unending nature of love. Of course there are other times when a gift of jewelry is expected. Almost everybody has a high school ring that marks the graduation from school. And then of course there are the various years during a marriage where a gift of jewelry is considered appropriate. Jewelry then can be considered an integral part of our social fabric.


        In addition to sentimental reasons for wearing jewelry that are social to a degree, there are other more personal reasons for wearing jewelry. Amongst other things jewelry can be considered a reward to oneself. At times we need to put into physical, tangible terms the need for a reward for the ongoing battles of everyday life. The precious nature of the materials from which jewelry is made is something we have a craving to make part of our own lives. To own and possess beauty gives us the gratification we may need to do our daily grind–to get up early to take care of the kids, to get up and go to work, to, as Shakespeare so eloquently had Hamlet say “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Whether the slings and arrows are as outlandish as those put upon Hamlet or simply getting cut off from a parking space at the super-market. Jewelry as a reward is attractive at least In part due to its enduring nature. Of course we have other material rewards for ourselves but many of them either require extensive maintenance, or simply do not last long by their very nature. In contrast, quality jewelry can last a lifetime with minimal maintenance and even become, through bequest, part of an ongoing family tradition. The desire to have something permanent in a world of impermanence and transience is understandable.