II : GEMS AND JEWELRY (Continued…)


        Since jewelry is used for adornment it also becomes a fashion statement. The history of fashion (apparel) is incomplete without a history of jewelry as well. As we go through time jewelry has its own fashion trends. As such the jewelry we choose to wear is as much a statement about ourselves as is the clothing we wear or the car we drive. In a sense there is a whole chain of events beginning with personal adornment and leading on to design. Starting with the notion of personal adornment a person is going to want to make his/her personal adornment consistent with his/her sense of fashion. His/her personal sense of fashion is going to lead to his/her own personal sense of style. When a person has an awareness of their own sense of style their design work will naturally tend to include certain types of designs and leave out others.


        A lot of these elements should be considered together as part of the design process. Our sense of fashion and style helps to define our personality just as our personality helps to define our sense of fashion and style. People can be bold, spirited, shy, feminine. Jewelry can be bold, spirited, shy, feminine — any of the characteristics we would like to assign to personality. Everybody has a sense of style that tells us secrets about their personality. At times we want to communicate these things about ourselves to others through physical, tangible means such as clothing or jewelry. At other times we use our sense of style to change things about our personality. Perhaps if we perceive ourselves to be too shy we might want to communicate a hidden sense of boldness through our personal adornment. Perhaps a person might perceive themselves as being too bold and might want to tone down their projected image through their sense of style.


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.


        Laura and I have spent most of our professional lives cloistered in the somewhat parochial society of gem dealers. However, we have been lucky enough to spend some time in the company of retail customers as well. People who do not know the intricacies of gems, minerals, and jewelry. Continue reading