Our Obsession with Jewelry – More Than Sex

Why do we have such a jewelry obsession?

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The need for sparkly, colorful jewels and jewelry is a must for so many of us. For jewelry to be so universally coveted it must possess inherent value. If it is naturally beautiful, then perhaps the need for jewelry is synonymous with a need for nature’s beauty. That’s part of the story.

Jewelry ObsessionJewelry doesn’t fulfill a physical need; it isn’t food, shelter, or sex. It’s a psychological need. It acts as an agent of personality. We use it for status, power, connection, reminders of intention, and to boost our good old fashioned self-esteem. We identify with it. Take birthstones, for example. If aquamarine is our birthstone, we may develop a lifelong attachment to it, only because it coincides with the date of our birth, and we have been taught that the simple fact of that coincidence actually has significance.

Feeling like one of the herd is hard on the ego.

Mr. T
Mr. T, the king of bling

We have in innate need to feel special. In an effort to stand out and assert our individuality, jewelry obsession as evidenced by a large collection, large pieces, or the rarest of stones can go a long way to making us feel unique. The less common the stone, the more valuable it is to Elizabeth. For a jewel to be valuable, it only needs to be perceived as rare.

Take the diamond for instance. Diamonds are in actuality a fairly common stone but a tightly regulated industry creates a false impression of scarcity.

We associate certain stones with specific spiritual qualities. We give them a spirit. The personality of a stone becomes something we can identify with. If turquoise symbolizes great wisdom of basic truths and moonstones bring about calm and emotional balance, we may attribute them with the cause of these experiences when we wear them. And in doing so, we feel empowered; our sense self-esteem is reinforced.

Byzantine Gold Earrings
Byzantine Gold Earrings

So how exactly does a jewelry obsession work for us? Adorning oneself with jewelry has been an ever-present practice, across time, religions, race, class and gender. Ancient shell beads found in Algeria and Israel represent the oldest known attempt by people at self-decoration. Found many miles from the ocean, these perforated shells have been dated to be 100,000 years old.[1] The use of gold in jewelrymaking can be traced back to 5,000 years ago, beginning with the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures.[2] Obsession with jewelry has forever been a part of human civilization.

Jewellery has been used to denote status. In ancient Rome, only certain ranks could wear rings.[3] Later, Julius Caesar passed a law that made it unlawful for the lower class to wear pearls, and in 55BC his (failed) attempt to conquer Britain was all about his desire to possess Britain’s pearls. Caesar had a perilous obsession with jewelry, particularly pearls.[4]

The more money a groom has, the more likely

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(photo credit)

it is that the diamond will be larger, with a greater number of carats. For most couples, this is the most expensive piece of jewelry they will ever own. In 2015, the average cost of an engagement ring was $5,273.[5] Many future grooms are encouraged to pay two months’ salary for an engagement ring, a traditional amount that has been traced to a 1947 advertising campaign by DeBeers that also included the famed “diamonds are forever” slogan. This is probably the best example one could present to illustrate the status requirement and subsequent fulfillment afforded by jewelry in today’s society. Although a diamond can purely be a symbol of love for a person, it can also signify of a provider’s capability to take care of their mate financially.

masonic ring
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Another aspect of social status has to do with “who you know”. Individuals can show their affiliation with a group by wearing matching jewelry. Ancient groups in the past and secret societies have used jewelry in this manner, and today, college fraternities and sororities do the same. Teenagers may share opposite side of broken heart necklaces and bracelets to show their loyalty, and married couples share matching wedding rings. The willingness to affiliate with groups and individuals in this manner reflects both our need to achieve social status and our desire to belong.

In ancient Rome, women used jewelry, clothing,

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(photo credit)

hairstyle, and make-up to project their wealth and rank in the community. Additionally, the use of jewelry gave them control over their bodies in a world where nearly every part of their life was governed by a man. Women were permitted to leave their acquired wealth to their daughters, and in doing so, jewelry was used to build and display wealth and reputation in their communities. Pearls were especially valuable: even lower class women would wear them (until Julius Caesar came along); passers-by would assume a woman was untouchable simply because she was wearing one.

This power of adornment in the ancient world provided a momentous step towards the attainment of autonomy that women enjoy today in the modern world. It was “through [the agency of cosmetics, ornament, and beauty] that a woman could create space to assert herself socially and gain a sphere of influence,” in the ancient world. [6]

Historically then, control of wealth, status, and control of one’s own body (especially for women), have all been aided through the possession of jewelry. Now let’s have a look at jewelry specifically as helps us connect with the divine.

Perhaps adornment with jewelry simply reflects a need for something other, something higher; affirmation that an aesthetically pleasing thing can be created without human hands, and without human intervention. Isn’t this why an earth mined gemstone will always be more valuable than one created in a lab? Why a genuine pearl is infinitely more valuable than a cultured one?

Alternately, wearing religious symbols in jewelry can also help us feel connected to the divine. Not only does it send a message to the world that one is devoted to his or her religion, but it can serve the additional purpose of helping an individual feel more connected to the divine. It can act as a reminder for them that their deity is at hand, or even as a direct connection to the deity itself. crossI possess a silver cross (picture here) that I earned for singing in a Catholic choir once upon a time, and it has helped me through difficult periods. I could always take that cross in my hand, close my eyes, and feel a direct connection with the divine. Reassurance that I was not alone was always available and (literally) close at hand.

It seems logical to conclude that the psychological need for jewelry falls somewhere between social needs and esteem needs. While social needs have to do with where one ranks in a group, esteem has more to do with one’s need for recognition and status.

A branch of the self-esteem aspect of jewelry which must be considered is intention.

Intention is sometimes viewed as a pit-bull kind of determination, driving one to succeed no matter what the cost. This is not the kind of intention we’re thinking of when discussing jewelry and the use of jewels.

On one’s path toward the unobtainable (perfect God-state), intention is a force in the Universe that allows the act of creation. Intention is not something you do, but is an energy that we are all a part of. We are wayne dyerall exactly where we are as a result of the power of our intention, though more often than not, unconsciously. Intention is an energy that can be accessed to purposefully co-create our lives, as in, on purpose. For more info, check out the amazing book by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, The Power of Intention.

The sages of India observed thousands of years ago that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads declares, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

The stone amber was once thought to be sunshine made solid. In ancient Egypt, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and clear quartz were used in amulet jewelry; stones believed to provide health and protection. Even the Hindu Vedas (aged conservatively at 5,000 years old) speak of crystals as healing tools.[7]

Hindu Vedic astrology suggests wearing gems, and ingesting them internally or as gem tinctures. Stones worn as rings and pendants should be mounted so as to touch the skin. Pendants, it instructs, should touch the heart or throat chakras, and rings with different gemstones should be worn on various fingers, as the elements dictate. [8]

But let’s return to the issue of self-esteem and its

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(photo credit)

love-child, intention. The desire to carry reminders of our intentions is not new. And if we’re paying attention, we understand the power of intention. We have carried talismans of crystal, stone, glass, clay, and metal for centuries, all over the world. We carry stones in our pockets and around our necks as reminders of our goals and intentions. On a finger, a ring can carry a message: this person is taken, “till death do they part”.

Madgi Del Moro, founder of Bahgsu Jewels says, “You have the power to choose a jewel that helps you to identify an element in yourself that maybe sometimes gets pushed to the way side. This conscious decision is a powerful step in allowing for what you taught yourself on the (yoga) mat to have an actual shape and form. For example, I wear my chrysoprase ring for it reminds me to go with the flow and remain flexible no matter how twisted the road is.” [9]

Any stone, from a pretty pebble found at the bank of a babbling brook to the fire opal which is said to restore vitality, can be worn to remind us of a deeper meaning and any intention we choose to make manifest as our reality.

Whether stones actually carry the properties that we bestow upon them is therefore, irrelevant. Our very intention imbues them with these characteristics, and so it is. Our intention makes it so.

maslowThe famous Maslow pyramid of our Hierarchy of Needs shows that humans have several layers of needs that have to be met in order for us to feel fulfilled and happy. Once our basic needs (food, water, warmth, rest, safety and security) are met, there are other, “higher needs” that arise, which include romantic interactions.

We can only guess why our ancient ancestors started adorning themselves with jewelry, but attracting a mate is certainly worth our consideration.sexy critters In the natural world there are many animals that have an inbuilt ability to attract the opposite sex: Take the peacock spider, the frigatebird, and the puffer fish (the peacock is so over the top). Nature has built in mate-attracting features to these creatures, but what has man?

Certainly a caveman decorated with jewelry would have a greater chance of attracting a mate than a similar but unadorned caveman. Our obsession with jewelry may well have begun the moment we realized that it could help attract and secure a mate.

It’s also conceivable that jewelry was used to denote age, sex, clan affiliation and/or status, but this author’s bet is on romance. After all, it’s the next block on Maslow’s pyramid. So while we will only ever be able to speculate, it is very likely that jewelry played an important role in the courtship dance.

Whether you wear jewelry to fit in, as a means of personal expression, as a talisman, or a reminder of the divine, your jewelry is a statement about who you are. It carries a message about you to the world, whether you are sending the message consciously or not. In a way, your jewelry can be seen as a small reflection of your personality.

All forms of expression are valuable, and anything that provides pure pleasure is worth value. In this way, jewelry connects us to humanity and to each other. It prompts us to think, to feel, and to love.

When purchasing jewelry, invest in unique pieces that will make you feel confident and reflect your inner beauty. When it comes to jewelry, it is wise to follow your own truth, path and purpose. Don’t be afraid to create your own intimate style. Treat your obsession with jewelry as your personal expression of the divine.

“When you love and laugh abundantly, you live with purpose. ” ~anon

When you wear jewelry that has a meaningful message for you, it makes you feel uplifted and sentimental. Jewelry that has a special meaning to you or the one you buy it for will give you great satisfaction, fill you with warmth, and truly communicate the power of love.

Shop outside the big box. Choosing the right accessories can make a huge impact on your confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments below!

1. livescience.com
2. en.wikipedia.org
3. romeandart.eu
4. ringlingdocents.org
5. weddingstats.org
6. books.google.com
7. wanderlust.com
8. hinduism.about.com
9. wanderlust.com

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