What Is Jewelry: Jewelry Definition and Types

The jewelry stands out with its perfect colors, mysterious looks, the play of light they create, and their seductive charms among more than 3000 mineral varieties. Because these magnificent stones are also rare, relatively hard, and durable minerals, they are referred to as precious stones and semi-precious stones. The natural beauty, strength, and stories of these stones have inspired beliefs and created a jewelry culture that has developed throughout history. So, do you know what is the definition of jewelry?

Jewelry is commonly referred to as a mineral shaped to be a personal accessory. As a general rule, they are beautiful, rare, and durable stones. These stones are generally used with forgeable metals. Most of them are minerals that are natural, inorganic substances with fixed chemical quality and smooth internal structure, and there are very few more obtained from plants and animals such as amber and pearls, which are called organic jewelry. Others are artificial substances produced in laboratories that do not have a natural source.

The Definition of Jewelry

Jewelry is the general name of ornaments made from elements such as precious stones and gold and silver, which can be defined as a functional item of use, which is formed by decoration, form, and material, and which decorates, completes, and complements clothing. So what are these precious stones? Precious and semi-precious stones have been used as symbols of beauty, wealth, and status since prehistoric times. A gemstone is a material of special value due to its rarity and certain physical and chemical privileges. There are two basic criteria for a material to be considered a gemstone. These are:

  • Beauty and aesthetic appearance: Although it is a relative concept, the stone should be clean, transparent, attractive colored,
  • Durability and rarity: This concept is explained by properties such as hardness, brittleness, and resistance to impacts, and external factors.

What makes an object valuable is its rarity. For example, within the production of thousands of carats, only a few hundred carats are pink diamonds. So the value of a pink diamond is thousands of times that of an ordinary diamond. It is the common value name given to all stones that have criteria that make them valuable. All minerals to be considered as gemstones must have a hardness of at least 7 according to the Mohs hardness scale. When hardness is mentioned, first the scratch hardness, then the cutting hardness is understood from the stones.

It is stated in similar sources that they should not be easy to draw and should be in a rare position from nature in order not to lose their shine brightness, therefore, their appeal. Although the word semi-precious gemstone is widely used in trade, it is not actually a scientific definition. Because many semi-precious gemstones can be more valuable than a precious type. The best term for all of these is gemstones. It is included in the international literature as “a misleading term that should not be used”.

Definition of Jewelry Aesthetics, Beauty and Art

Jewelry decoration is the general name of decorative items made of elements such as precious stones and gold and silver, which can be defined as a supplementary element that decorates, completes, and completes the clothing. With their impressive colors and brilliance, precious stones have been used as symbols of beauty, wealth, and power that have been a part of human life since ancient times. Most of them are minerals that are natural, inorganic substances, and there are those obtained from plants and animals such as pearls, which are called organic jewelry.

Jewelry products made of precious stones and metals are design objects that must be integrated in terms of body, material, form, and function and provide as much comfort as possible. As explained in similar sources, it is stated that the fashion factor influences jewelry as well as reflects technological, cultural, religious, aesthetic, and economic development. Trends in jewelry design fashion designs are constantly changing and complementing each other.

The phenomenon we call aesthetic value is integrated with beauty. It is a product of the understanding that beauty is what leads one to innovation, and that beauty and art are identical. The elements that reveal the concept of aesthetics in jewelry are the design-material-workmanship triad. The aesthetic concept takes precedence over the material value and weight of the jewelry. This approach is of great importance for the design development of jewelry.

It may be possible to direct the person to innovation through emotional and aesthetic values. It is emphasized that the concept of beauty in jewelry expresses its excitement and there is a transfer of beauty-aesthetics-emotion between painting and the audience. Material, form, workmanship, and artistic value are taken as the basis in determining the aesthetic value of the jewelry. It can be seen that aesthetic taste constitutes the core of the communication between art and jewelry.

Jewelry designed with an interest in art enables a more sensitive approach to aesthetic values. In today’s criteria, the primary function of jewelry is to beautify the person, and the primary idea of ​​the wearer is to become beautiful. Considering that jewelry is the quietest indicator that gives information about a particular culture, it is seen that it has a silent didactic aspect that presents and directs the cultural structure, aesthetic taste of that age to the person.

Even though designs spread as a result of cultural transitions between societies, none of the communities used the design concept they had taken over, synthesized with their knowledge, and created new products in line with their own aesthetic understanding. The fact that the jewel you want to visualize with lines is aesthetically pleasing has not been made and thought out before, is new with a creative idea or enhances the existing one, overlaps with the basic essence of art.

The social characteristics of jewelry designers have caused their aesthetic concerns to become apparent and different. It is stated that the geography, cultural accumulation, and social structures of the region where the artists who are interested in jewelry live have contributed to the formation of the aesthetic attitude.

Aesthetic taste has differed in proportion to the development processes of societies and has become an integral part of human psychology. The jewels seen in the paintings are designed to glorify the aesthetic values ​​of the person. One of the socio-psychological functions of jewelry products is the ability to improve the aesthetic sensitivity of the user.

Community-Specific Jewelry Definitions

When it comes to jewelry specific to societies, the first thing that comes to mind is jewels produced in line with the socio-cultural, psychological, economic, and religious levels of the societies. These jewels can be distinguished from each other by their shape, materials, craftsmanship, and aesthetic approach. As the language of expression of nonverbal communication, he has fulfilled the responsibility imposed on him in the historical process.

Some gem features may be similar in communities that have lived one after another on the same land. However, all these similarities do not prevent them from being distinguished from each other. Migrations, invasions, commercial exchanges have contributed to the spread of jewelry forms, materials, techniques, and synthesis. Sometimes it can be seen that in communities far from residential areas, the same form is formed as inherent in human motives, or that the same material is applied with the same craftsmanship.

These motives bring people together on some common points, regardless of race, religion, and culture. Designs brought by different approaches have led to the emergence of the concept of “Specific to Societies”. The design approach is a very important distinguishing feature. It is understood that the understanding of design, which changes in line with the beliefs and tradition of societies, makes a difference in the use of jewelry as well as in terms of expression.

It is seen that people have a communication tendency in parallel with the cultural structures and traditions of the societies. At this point, jewels came into play as a non-verbal communication tool. Having a design philosophy with a new interpretation and search for different materials, modeled with an aesthetic phenomenon, jewels have taken their place among artistic objects with the right material selection and production techniques.

It is emphasized that the first real step in design education was taken in 1919 in order to eliminate the disconnection between arts and crafts. With a new understanding that adopts the close relationship of function, form, and aesthetics, the basis of jewelry design education has also been established. Societies have reacted to the uniformity and machine-made products brought about by industrialization in different periods. As a result of these reactions, designers chose to design products to be produced by hand.

The designer wanted to design an aesthetic jewel object that embodies art values ​​in line with his creative power. The user, on the other hand, determines his expectations in line with his psychology and status and chooses to use the jewelry that can serve his purpose. Today, the differentiation of tastes and the rapid introduction of new materials in design has brought a new dimension to jewelry design.

It is the common value name given to all stones that have criteria that make them valuable. All minerals to be considered as gemstones must have a hardness of at least 7 according to the Mohs hardness scale. When it comes to hardness, first the scratch hardness, then the cutting hardness is understood from the gems. It is stated in similar sources that they should not be easy to draw and should be in a rare position from nature in order not to lose their shine brightness, therefore, their appeal.

Stones that do not meet these criteria and are still used in jewelry are expressed as semi-precious gemstones. Every stone that comes out of nature is a real and precious stone, they are only categorized according to their properties. Precious stones and gemstones can be found in many mineral deposits of different types and from there, they can transport themselves to the jewelry and jewelry industry.

The natural beauty of the stones is revealed by applying facet cuts to the stones that can create transparent, colorless, colored, and high light reflection. The most precious of these are diamond, ruby, emerald, aquamarine, sapphire, and tourmaline. Among these, rubies, unblemished diamonds, emeralds are the most valuable minerals and diamonds can be encountered in various colors in nature.

History of the Definition of Jewelry

When we follow the adventure of jewels in the transition from primitive societies to urbanized societies, we can reach information about civilizations, societies, and individuals. Jewelry made of precious stones and metals reflected the artistic style of the period they belonged to and became a symbol of beauty and a means of displaying the social status of the ruling classes. Throughout history, jewels have been a means of interaction and communication between people and a means of determining social status from past to present.

Jewelry has an important place in the history of painting studies in terms of its positions and functions. The non-verbal communication tool conveys the messages of the society that produces the jewelry and also reflects the identity of the people who use them. The visualization of the jewelry used as an item in the paintings on the picture has shed light on today’s jewelry industry with its design development. 45 thousand years ago, people made jewelry with organic materials they found in nature, but these timeless first examples could not survive with environmental conditions.

The transition from nomadism to settled life started with the Neolithic age in 7250 BC. Developments in this process have also shown themselves in jewelry made of metals such as copper and lead. In this period, which is dated to the first half of 6000 BC, jewelry must have been arranged with colored stones and used for adornment, admiration, and religious purposes. In their new posthumous life, they made rings and bracelets made of animal bones, seashells, and colored stones and placed them in the graves in order to be protected from evil and to feel peace.

It is known that corundum mineral, which has a high degree of hardness, was used in the etching and painting of colored ornamental stones during the Chalcolithic Age (5500-3200 BC). Phoenix and dragon motif designs were used as amulets and talismans in the earliest earrings belonging to the Chinese. Jewelry made of precious metals and colorful ornamental stones were adorned with Buddhism symbols and carried religious weight.

At the beginning of 4000 BC, colored semi-precious ornamental stones with gold and silver were started to be used for jewelry. Discovered in this period that gold can be processed in Anatolia. It has been stated that the clergy living in these lands started to wear precious stones and gold jewelry. All civilizations that lived in Anatolia used many precious metals and precious stones as a symbol of material wealth, a talisman protecting from evil and troubles, and sometimes as a religious symbol, as well as aesthetic purpose.

The design of gold and silver jewelry, which are precious metals, began in the period of the Hittites, Urartians, Phrygians, and Ionians. Although Lydians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans produced traditional tools, they created high-quality jewelry styles. Jewelry has contained social, economic, and anthropological messages in every period.

In the historical development of fashion, accessory products such as brooches have been used for practical purposes and have become an element that complements the decoration and beauty over time.

Contemporary Definitions in Jewelry

From the past to the present, jewelry comes out with many different colors, sizes, and designs, with the meaning ascribed to the life philosophies and habits of societies. Jewelry has been used as an indicator of elegance, personality, status, and power. Mystical beliefs created a special bond between man and precious stones. In general, various materials, semi-precious stones, gold, and silver were used as jewelry materials.

From ancient civilizations to the present, jewels in modern form have rapidly taken their place in the market with the effect of the winds blowing in the geography of the people, the geography they live in, and the world fashion. With the development of science and technology, it is emphasized that human beings have created jewels that are universal ornaments and describe the user person. Symbolic motifs are revealed by using various techniques and unusual materials with the contributions of the designers involved in the art of jewelry.

After the 18th century, jewelry has become an integral part of clothing with all its glamor. In the 19th century, jewelry and accessory products were used for decoration purposes, which were more dominant. The developing understanding of design has manifested itself differently in many societies, and trends have developed in direct proportion to some trends. In this period, Art Nouveau, which means new art, has become an artistic trend understanding that establishes a psychological bridge between the new and the old century.

From the end of the 19th century to the present, a marked decline in the aristocracy and the rise of the middle class has been observed. The purpose of the use of jewelry and the thoughts it reflects have changed, as a result of the awareness and the understanding of the market in design, a mixed community of all segments has been formed. The jewels that emerged in line with this art movement, which has been at the forefront of the influences of guiding jewelry design since the early 20th century, are among the works that signed the period with their aesthetic curves, noble appearance, and fine workmanship.

In terms of design, personal research has been entered, and it has begun to go beyond the past jewelry design patterns. Designers of this period avoided unnecessary curves and material overload in their jewelry and adopted the principle of reflecting magnificence with simplicity and aesthetic appearance. A synonym for Art Nouveau in Germany is Jugendstil, which influenced decorative arts in the 1900s. In the 1907s, Jugendstill combined art and industry. This trend was mostly inspired by British designers and produced similar products in terms of form, material, and workmanship.

Throughout the 20th century, design, function, and color have changed dramatically in jewelry and its importance has increased. Another art movement influencing jewelry design was the stylized Art Deco. With the new technologies and materials developed during the war, more modern forms were created and geometric abstract designs became popular in Europe and America. An important subject that sets an example for Art Deco style works is the “Barbaric” fashion originating from the work of old jewelers. Barbaric style designs are influenced by Islamic and Near Eastern patterns.

It has been explained in similar sources that, with the rapidly developing media and technology in the 20th century, jewelry design knowledge spread effectively across the nations. Considering that the jewelry product is the quietest indicator that gives information about a particular culture, it is seen that the jewelry has a silent didactic aspect that presents the artistic and cultural structure, aesthetic taste, and the idea of ​​the beauty of that age to the person and guides and educates him about this issue. It makes people look more sensitive to artistic and aesthetic values.

The history of jewelry has shared a common tradition with the concept of design. Although differences are observed over time in the purpose of use and the meanings attributed to jewelry, it is seen that all jewelry products are shaped according to the conditions of the day and the cultural structures of the societies. For this reason, jewelry appears as the determinant that reflects the characteristics of societies and carries them into the present.

When we look at the history of jewelry, it has been determined that all jewels produced were produced on the basis of the religious, cultural, social, economic, and experience of the societies. As a result of this determination, when a jewelry product is examined, we can have a lot of information about the society in which the jewelry is produced. For the religious beliefs of the society, its socio-cultural structure, architectural and artistic approaches, and many other features, the determination of the jewelry products is expressed.

Defining Jewelry Types: Precious Stones

Precious stones and semi-precious stones are often found in rocks in the form of crystals embedded in structures called gangue or matrix. Many natural crystals are very distinctive, shiny, and attractive even in their raw form. Others are polished by giving them multi-faceted shapes to increase their beauty. It is then mounted on the desired jewelry or ornament.

  • Emerald

Emerald, which symbolizes wealth in the cultures of many societies since history, is an admirable stone with its unique green color from chrome and vanadium. In addition to bright green, yellowish-green or dark green are also found. Emeralds are rarely flawless, so they are mostly oiled to fill cracks and gaps, hide their imperfections, and brighten their color.

To reduce material loss, a straight-cut is often used, also called an emerald cut. The best result is achieved by removing the imperfections with decoupage and embossing methods. Today, emerald can also be produced under laboratory conditions. Today, the best emeralds are mined in Colombia. Other sources are Austria, India, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, the USA, Norway, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe.

  • Diamond

Diamonds have the longest history among precious stones. In addition to being the hardest mineral in the world, it is the hardest stone to extract, its unique brilliance and glowing fire make the diamond the most precious of all precious stones.

The word “diamond” in English is derived from the word “Adamao”, which means “Unjudgable, real judge” in Greek. It was found in India 4000 years ago. Pure, colorless diamonds are best known; However, due to the different substances that may be present in their content, there are many different diamond varieties from yellow and brown to green, blue to pink and red, various shades of gray to black. The majority of diamonds were formed 3 billion years ago in the depths of the earth scorched in a fire.

  • Ruby

Ruby is among the favorite stones of jewelry lovers. Its technical name is “red corundum”, but it is not referred to as sapphire like other colors of corundum. Ruby, which can be in various shades of red, offers an eye-catching color range from pink to purple or brownish red, depending on the ratio of chrome and iron it contains.

Although the crystals in its structure seem prone to breakage due to the dense lines, it is extremely durable as the hardest mineral after diamond. Crystal prisms are triangular or hexagonal with pointed or flat tips. As the crystals develop, they form new layers on them; In these layers, color variations, also called zoning, occur according to the geological conditions and the type of minerals present.

It is found almost everywhere in the world as eroded gravels in volcanic and metamorphic rocks or in alluvial deposits. It has been acknowledged by jewelry merchants that the best quality natural rubies were extracted from Thailand-Burma. Burmese rubies, most of which have a brownish-red color, have been known since the late 1500s. Apart from that, very high-quality bright red rubies are mined in Afghanistan, Vietnam, and especially in Pakistan. Those found in India, Russia, Australia, Norway, and the USA-North Carolina are mostly dark, sometimes even opaque.

Burmese rubies, most of which have a brownish-red color, have been known since the late 1500s. Apart from that, very high-quality bright red rubies are mined in Afghanistan, Vietnam, and especially in Pakistan. Those found in India, Russia, Australia, Norway, and the USA-North Carolina are mostly dark, sometimes even opaque.

  • Sapphire

Any corundum of gem quality that is not red in color is called a sapphire. However, this name is mostly used for blue-colored ones. Due to the iron and titanium additives that it contains, its color varies, but the most precious is the clear and deep blue one. Some sapphires also called “color-changing sapphires”, reveal different shades of blue under natural and artificial light. In addition, various natural additions can form “star sapphire” types, which are usually embroidered with a round “cabochon” cut and are very valuable. These are also the choice of many men as they do not look feminine.

It is possible to distinguish the sources of the stones according to their colors. After cashmere sapphire, the best blue sapphires are mined in Burma, Sri Lanka, and other parts of India, in pegmatite structures and alluvial deposits. Sapphires from Thailand, Australia, and Nigeria are dark blue, almost black. These are also called “midnight blue sapphires”. Sapphires produced in the USA-Montana have an attractive metallic blue hue. Apart from these, Cambodia, Brazil, Kenya, Malawi, and Colombia are other sapphire regions.

  • Pearl

Pearl, one of the most preferred precious stones worldwide for centuries differs from other stones as an organic substance. It has been a symbol of purity and innocence throughout the ages, so it has been accepted as an ideal marriage gift. Also known as the “tears of the moon”, this stone is likened to the trail of angels passing through the clouds of heaven. In the past, it was believed to be good for heart diseases and many ailments in most civilizations. In fact, calcium carbonate, the main ingredient of the pearl, is still used as a medicine today. It occurs through natural processes or artificial methods called “cultivation”.

Natural pearls form spontaneously due to the penetration of small foreign materials such as sand and shell fragments into the shells of sea creatures such as oysters or mussels. When the foreign material is trapped between the shell and the oyster, the animal first produces a black secretion called conchiolin to protect itself. Later, it covers the material well with a white secretion called nacre.

These oysters are extracted from the depths by divers, also called pearl hunters or large nets. Among the tens of thousands of oysters, only a small part contains pearls, and only a few of them are of gem quality. Since natural pearls are very rare, their price can reach tens of thousands of dollars. Pearly oysters are found in many oceans and seas, but the most abundant region is in the Persian Gulf. In the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Manaar, Sri Lanka Island, and the Red Sea are places where natural pearls have been extracted for thousands of years.

The first cultivated pearl was produced in Japan in 1893, dedicated to the legendary Kokichi Mikimoto. Although large jewelry merchants rejected manufactured pearls in the early days, this attitude did not last long due to the large demand in the market. Today, consumers take pride in displaying their cultured pearls as much as their natural ones.

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Savaş Ateş

I like reading books. I like to read about jewelry too. After reading a lot of books about it, I have started to visit jewelry manufacturers and stores. It is my number 1 hobby.

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