I am passionate about jewelry, and I love to think about the many different materials used to create it in various forms. In this post, I am thrilled to share some of the pros and cons of jewelry-making materials with you.
Another thing I love about jewelry is its unique form. I have made some mistakes when younger while wearing jewelry, so I have included tips about what jewelry to wear to work casual and black-tie events.
The one thing that I love most about jewelry is learning about the different styles artists use worldwide to create it. I am honored to share some unique jewelry styles with you from around the globe.
Since that time, people have made jewelry from a variety of materials. If you are considering adding a new piece to your accessory collection, it is natural to have questions about the unique qualities of each material. Understanding these factors will help you choose the piece meeting your needs the best.
Considering the different qualities of each, along with when they are most useful, is a great place to start when selecting jewelry.
Types of Jewelry Materials
As soon as people learned primitive metalworking techniques, they made the first jewelry pieces. Many examples studied by archeologists have come from ancient tombs buried with a person as their family believed they might need to pay for passage into an afterlife.
As technology advanced, so did the materials used to make jewelry. The Industrial Revolution brought significant changes to jewelry because pieces could be mass-produced. Yet, some artisans still produce jewelry by hand. Manufacturers and artisans use over 15 different material types.
Let’s deep dive into some of the most common materials used to make jewelry.
There are at least four different types of gold jewelry that you might encounter. Gold-plated jewelry has a fine layer of gold applied over a base material, usually copper or brass. When new, these pieces contain less than 0.05% gold. Since the coating is so thin, it can easily rub off. Typically, you can find cheaper gold-plated jewelry, making it an excellent option for special occasion jewelry that you will wear once or twice or to try a new trend. People make gold vermeil jewelry using a similar process, but the layer is thicker and placed on top of silver, creating hypoallergenic jewelry. While the gold lasts longer, usually years, it can still rub off over time.
Another label that you will see is gold-filled. In this case, unless you are at the dentist’s office, it means that a layer of gold has been added on top of brass mechanically. People stamp these pieces 14/20, meaning they used 14 karat gold or 20/20, meaning the creator used 20 karat gold. While these pieces have 100 times more gold than gold-plated jewelry, the process limits creators to making flat pieces. Often, you can find great gold-filled pieces at a much more reasonable cost than solid-gold jewelry, and they stand up very well over a long time.
Solid gold is the top of the line, and you can wear it for years without it wearing down. People often hand these pieces down from one generation to the next. Solid gold jewelry is hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, solid-gold jewelry is also very expensive.
In its purest form, silver is too soft for jewelry making. Silver jewelry can vary widely in color. Jewelry marked as silver does not identify what type of silver it is, and it is usually very cheap. Other options include:
These pieces are made of 99.9% silver and .1% other elements. It is the purest silver used in jewelry and is very soft, so pieces scratch easily and often lose shape over time.
These pieces contain 92.5% pure silver combined with 7.5% copper, although trace amounts of another mineral may be present. Jewelry made from sterling silver reflects light beautifully, but it can tarnish easily.
You can find two different grades of Argentium silver with pieces containing either 6.8% or 4% copper and germanium. These pieces are less subject to tarnish and are easier to maintain.
A very thin layer of silver is placed over another base material. Costume jewelry is often silver plated, and it can be very inexpensive.
Pieces marked silver-filled have been 5 and 10% silver in them, and makers bind the silver to a base material. These pieces are usually affordable, but they tarnish easily.
This jewelry contains 90% silver and 10% copper. While sterling silver is stamped .925, this silver is stamped .900, but we will get to more about that in a little bit.
Copper is often a popular choice in jewelry because of its orange-red hue. It is incredibly malleable, and it combines very well with other materials. Additionally, it is more affordable than many choices, and who does not like saving money. Some proponents find that wearing copper jewelry helps relieve pain in their bodies. Copper imprints and engraves exceptionally well, so you can find beautiful copper jewelry with many animals or nature scenes engraved into them. You can also find options with geometric shapes imprinted on them. Furthermore, copper will last a very long time when you care for your copper jewelry properly. While I will have more to say in a little while, store your copper jewelry away from jewelry made from options made from another metal and in a location where it cannot get easily scratched.
When copper oxidizes in air and moisture, your skin may turn green. This is not dangerous to your skin, and a little skincare will often remove the green color. While being very malleable means it is easy for jewelers to work with, it also means that copper jewelry bends easily. Therefore, jeweler makers often combine copper with other metals. Common examples include brass and sterling silver.
Platinum jewelry is 90-to-95% pure platinum, with the remaining part usually being cobalt or ruthenium. Platinum jewelry will not discolor, tarnish or corrode, so pieces made of this mineral typically mined in Russia or South Africa last a long time. Platinum is white, so it naturally looks beautiful with many precious gemstones and diamonds. While it may be more expensive initially than many choices used in creating fine jewelry, there are no long-term maintenance costs, like getting the jewelry replated. A piece of platinum jewelry does not wear away. For example, if you choose a platinum wedding and weigh it on that day, it will weigh the same on your 75th wedding anniversary. Over time, it develops a beautiful patina-like appearance, but a jeweler can easily remove it if you do not like that look.
Platinum jewelry is heavy. Generally, it will weigh 60% more than the same piece made from 14-karat gold and about 35% more than the same piece made from 18-karat gold. Platinum is a scarce mineral, and jewelers can command a higher price for it. When compared against white gold jewelry, platinum scratches easier. Jewelers sometimes charge extra if you need to have platinum jewelry resized or repaired.
Titanium is another metal used in jewelry. It will not rust, so pieces last a long time. It is tough to scratch or bend pieces made from titanium, making it a good choice for people who often work with their hands or love outdoor pursuits. Additionally, it is lighter than many precious metals used in jewelry, like gold. Along with platinum and tungsten, titanium remains intact for a long time, and it is resistant to temperature and environmental changes. Workers can easily anodize titanium so that you can find titanium jewelry in a variety of colors, including blue, red, and pink.
Titanium jewelry has a matte finish. Therefore, it will not sparkle like many other precious metals. Jewelers must select a different material for the prongs holding gemstones on titanium jewelry. Jewelers cannot solder titanium, so you must order the right size to begin with or reorder the jewelry. Since manufacturers cannot mold titanium easily, creating complex designs can be costly. While titanium does not scratch as easily as solid gold, titanium still scratches easier than many other choices on the market. People who like to feel the heft of their jewelry on their bodies may be disappointed in the weight of pieces made from titanium.
Brass jewelry is a trendy option that is perfect for casual days. It has a beautiful golden tone that comes from the combination of zinc and copper to make this alloy. Brass jewelry is often more affordable than other options, like pure gold and silver jewelry. Older brass jewelry pieces often have a beautiful appearance, but it is easy to polish them back to their original shine if you desire. Brass jewelry will not corrode or rust, so it often lasts for years. This is true even if you are not the best at taking care of your jewelry, but we will provide you with some valuable tips on taking care of your jewelry in a minute.
While you will love adding brass jewelry to your collection, avoid brass-plated jewelry because it is not durable. You can tell when shopping in person because brass is not magnetic. Therefore, if a magnet is attracted to it, you know it is not solid brass. Moisture will tarnish brass jewelry, so you need to take it off when you shower. Brass jewelry can cause skin irritations. Therefore, some people have trouble wearing brass jewelry.
Stainless steel jewelry
If you find yourself outside in all types of weather or work in a harsh environment, then stainless steel jewelry is perfect for you as it will not corrode and is heat resistant. For eons, it has been used as the first post when people get their ears pierced because very few people have an allergic reaction to stainless steel. Since stainless steel jewelry does not tarnish, corrode or scratch easily, it is perfect for pieces of jewelry, like wedding bands, that you wear often. You can easily clean a piece of pure stainless-steel jewelry with soap and water. Stainless-steel jewelry is also incredibly lightweight, so you will not feel pressure on your neck when wearing a piece of it or feel like one arm is heavier than the other when wearing a stainless-steel bracelet. Stainless steel has a beautiful luster. Yet, it is much cheaper than many other choices.
Stainless steel jewelry is hard to resize as special equipment is needed. Therefore, you may have to pay extra. Since stainless steel is hard to work with, limited choices are available. Stainless steel and chlorine do not mix well. Therefore, you will need to remember to take your jewelry off and put it in a safe place before swimming.
The elegance of a piece of pearl jewelry is almost unsurpassed. The best pieces of pearl jewelry often make a great investment. Natural and cultured pearls are both available. There are many different types of pearls available, including:
Akoya cultured pearls
Usually, the first type of pearl that pops into your mind these pearls are white or cream.
South Sea cultured pearls
Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are leading producers of these large pearls with thick nacre and are usually white or goldish.
Tahitian cultured pearls
These black or muted colored pearls from French Polynesia, especially Tahiti, often have blue, green, purple, or pink overtones.
Freshwater cultured pearls
These peals are collected from oysters in freshwater lakes worldwide, and they are usually the cheapest option.
Pearl jewelry requires a little more care than many types of jewelry if you want it to last a long time. While they have their place, it can be easy to be fooled and buy imitation pearls when you think you are buying real ones. Some types of pearls are scarce, so pieces made from these pearls can be pricey.
If you have ever gone on a beach vacation, you have probably discovered shell jewelry sold in a nearby retail shop. Shells come from many different regions, with New Zealand being the largest producer of shells for jewelry. The wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes in shells help artists be very creative. There are at least three types of shells commonly used in jewelry making:
These white shells appear to have a geometric pattern on them. They come from cone-shaped sea urchins, and the shells can be found on oceanfront beaches worldwide.
These circular shells with a hole in the middle come from Hawaii.
These brown-to-purple shells are used whole or carved into various shapes. They come from mollusks or sea snails.
Some shells can be very delicate. Therefore, you will want to pay special attention to how you care for your shell necklace. It is very easy to get tripped up and think you are buying a real shell necklace while the shells are glass, resin, plastic, or another substance.
No two pieces of wooden jewelry are the same, and each one has a unique story to be told. Wooden jewelry is eco-friendly, so you are not taking an unreplaceable natural resource from the earth for your accessory. Wooden jewelry is hypoallergenic, making it an excellent choice for those with metal allergies. There are many different types of wood used to make jewelry, including:
This wood ranges from dark-to-light brown with reddish overtones.
This term does not refer to one species of tree. Instead, it refers to the smokey gray color.
Sometimes called nangka, this wood has a light yellow appearance.
This type of wood comes from various palm trees, including coconut and date trees, and is a light-brown color, often with darker spots.
This tree grows in the rainforest, and it is a very light brown with the wood grain showing.
This tree grows in the Philippines and is light pink.
Wooden jewelry can chip and splinter, and it is not as strict as many metal options. Sizing a wooden ring can be challenging, and getting one resized can be nearly impossible. Chemicals can damage the finish of wooden rings.
You can find a wide variety of gemstone jewelry. Most can be cut and shaped in a variety of ways. Often, you can find great buys on natural or synthetic gemstone jewelry. Geologists rate gemstones for durability using Mohr’s scale. Options rated higher than seven on the scale stand up better to daily wear than those rated lower. Popular gemstone options include:
This purple gemstone rates about a seven on Mohr’s scale and can be very affordable.
This pale blue to greenish-blue gemstone rates about 7.5 on Mohr’s scale, but inclusions can be a problem.
The color of citrine does not occur naturally but is created by a heat treatment to the iron found in quartz. A great variety of colors ranging from pale yellow to deep amber is possible in this stone with a Mohr’s value of about seven.
Ranging from blue-green to yellow-green, the emerald’s color is a favorite of many. While it has a hardness of about 7.7 on Mohr’s scale, internal fissures can be problematic.
Orange, brown, green, and pink garnets are available. These gemstones that are usually affordable rate about a seven on Mohr’s scale.
While black onyx is usually the most popular, you can find white onyx gemstones. It rates about 6.5 on Mohr’s scale and is usually very affordable.
Available in various colors, including white and orange, opals only rate about 4.5 on Mohr’s scale. Additionally, cracks in the stone can make it very unstable.
Some gemstones are much harder than others. Those that are harder can be difficult to scratch, while softer ones can get scratched easily. Clear gemstones are highly prized, but buyers will see options where the clarity is lower. Inclusions in natural gemstones can ruin the look of the stone.
The wide assortment of glass jewelry makes it fun. Usually, you can find glass jewelry at great prices. Before you decide, consider the different types of glass jewelry as they each have their advantages and disadvantages.
This type of glass jewelry is created by layering small pieces of colored glass together before melting them together in a kiln. These pieces can be uneven around the edges.
Very similar to fused-glass jewelry, except the colored pieces are laid on top of clear glass before fusing takes place.
Often called lampwork, small glass rods are melted to form designs before the piece is put in a kiln to be annealed.
Sometimes called Venetian glass or millefiori, artists carefully shape the end of glass rods to form thousands of tiny flowers in these pieces. Making Murano glass is very time-intensive, so these pieces tend to be expensive. Watch for fakes that often flood the market.
These pieces are made from glass thrown into the sea in a tumbler. Then, workers build the jewelry around it.
Exposure to sunlight can fade glass jewelry. Therefore, you should never store them in direct sunlight, although you are unlikely to notice the difference if you wear a piece outside for a short while. Dyed and galvanized glass pieces are more prone to fading. The oil in your skin can interact with the dye used to color glass beads causing them to look faded sooner.
Clay jewelry is very scratch resistant, and you can wear clay jewelry almost anywhere without fearing that it might break. Like ceramic wedding rings, clay jewelry is hypoallergenic, making them an ideal choice for those who are allergic to many metals. Clay jewelry is very lightweight, making it perfect for pieces you want to wear all day and night. Clay can be formed into molds to repeat the same pattern many times, or it can be used to make one-of-a-kind designs. Often, beginning artists create very inexpensive pieces using polymer and air-dry clay. These pieces are usually fun to wear and come in a wide variety of designs. While they are more delicate, they can make fun pieces for special occasions.
While clay jewelry may not break easily, you still need to use commonsense so that it does not get chipped or cracked. The same things that chip or crack grandma’s best china can hurt clay jewelry.
Artists have created pewter jewelry since at least the early Roman Empire. It is mostly tin with small amounts of copper, bismuth, and silver. Pewter is very malleable, so it is helpful in making various pieces of jewelry. Pressure-die casting and other casting techniques allow workers to make many pieces quickly. Pewter has an aged look, and jewelry made from it will not tarnish.
You need to be especially careful with pewter jewelry because it can get dented and scratched very easily. While it is easy to clean pewter jewelry with a dry cloth, it will never look shiny. While it is often less than other precious metals, some people are allergic to pewter. If you love antiquing for jewelry, be careful when buying pewter pieces because older pieces contain lead, which can damage your body. Newer pieces do not have lead.
Cobalt jewelry looks very similar to white gold, but there is a considerable advantage. After a few years, you can expect to have to take your white gold piece in for replating, but you get a very similar look with cobalt without rhodium plating. It is possible to find cobalt-plated jewelry, and artists can create beautiful colors, like yellow or rose gold, using this process. You can polish these pieces to a high luster, and the polished look will remain for a long time because cobalt does not rust or tarnish quickly. Cobalt jewelry does not scratch or wear down easily, which can be an essential consideration when buying a piece of jewelry like a wedding band. Since it is four times harder than the hardest precious metal, it is almost impossible to bend or warp a piece of cobalt jewelry. These lightweight pieces are comfortable to wear, and they are usually budget-friendly.
Cobalt’s incredible strength makes it hard to resize pieces made from this mineral. While you can have laser engraving added to a piece of cobalt jewelry, pieces cannot be engraved using traditional techniques. The difficulty of working with this metal means that most will have a simple design.
Most jewelry pieces made with tungsten have 85% tungsten and 15% nickel. It is impossible to make a piece of jewelry totally from tungsten because it is a powder, so a binder must always be added. The only thing that can scratch tungsten is a diamond, making it an excellent choice for pieces you want to last a long time. While not the lightest jewelry on the market, its weight is comparable to gold or silver. It is naturally hypoallergenic. Tungsten jewelry has a natural gun-metal gray color, but manufacturers can plate it in other colors. These pieces are usually budget-friendly, so they may make great choices for couples just starting or people who want fabulous-looking jewelry without taking a second note on their home.
If too little nickel is added to the mix when making this jewelry, then the piece becomes brittle. If too much nickel is added, then jewelry scratches easily. Even in the right mixture, these rings can crack or break in half if enough pressure is applied. It is impossible to resize a tungsten ring. Unlike gold and silver, there is no investment value in tungsten jewelry.
There are many reasons that you can find aluminum jewelry in many jewelry boxes and around the necks of Hollywood’s elite. Jewelry made from aluminum is budget-friendly. Therefore, you may be able to get a piece of aluminum jewelry when the same jewelry made of gold or silver would be out of your price range. Additionally, jewelry makers can create many fun designs with aluminum, and they will not tarnish. In fact, aluminum jewelry naturally forms a layer of aluminum oxide on its surface, so it cannot tarnish. This means that you will spend less time cleaning your jewelry. Aluminum jewelry is hypoallergenic, so most people can wear it. Pieces made from aluminum are incredibly lightweight, so you can wear bigger pieces without feeling any ill effects.
Aluminum is difficult to resize. Usually, jewelers will recommend switching to a new band instead of resizing a piece. A strong impact can bend a piece of aluminum jewelry, but it will not break in most cases.
What Does 925 Mean on Jewelry?
When shopping for jewelry, you may see several numbers on jewelry and be puzzled by their meaning. We have already discussed the numbers of the Mohr scale, but you may see other numbers.
One of the most common numbers you will see is 925 on silver jewelry. You will often find it imprinted onto the clasp of silver necklaces while it is usually on the back of pendants. This number means that the manufacturer used 92.5% silver to make the piece. Sterling silver jewelry and 925 jewelry are the same things. If you have gold jewelry with 925 stamped on it, it is gold-plated jewelry with sterling silver underneath.
You may also see 999 on some silver necklaces. This is fine jewelry that is 99.9% silver and 0.1% impurities, and it is the purest silver used for jewelry making.
Speaking of gold jewelry and numbers, let’s briefly look at karats. If gold jewelry were 100% gold, it would be stamped 24k, but you would not want to own this piece because it would be too soft. Instead, other minerals are added to gold to make it suitable for jewelry making.
If you want to know the percentage of gold in a piece when the number is imprinted as karats, multiply the karats by 100 and divide by 24. For example, if the jewelry is marked 12k, multiply 12 by 100 and divide by 24, and you will discover the piece has 50% pure gold. Likewise, if the jewelry is marked 18k, multiply 18 times 100 and divide by 24 to determine that the work is 75% pure gold.
How to Clean Jewelry
While it is often easiest to take your jewelry to a professional for cleaning, you can clean rubies, diamonds, and sapphires at home. Especially in the case of diamonds, if you do not clean jewelry regularly, it will start to have a cloudy appearance.
Start by putting the plug in the sink. You do not want to accidentally drop your jewelry and have it go down the drain. A friend did that with a ring that had great sentimental value to her, and she paid over $250 to have a plumber come and retrieve the ring.
Then, add a little warm water to the sink. Add a few drops of mild dishwashing soap to the water, like you were washing some dishes. Put the jewelry in the water and let it soak for about 30 minutes.
Take a new soft-bristled toothpaste and scrub the piece softly. Rinse the jewelry under running water, making sure to keep the drain plug in place. If you are still unhappy with how clean you could get the piece, put it somewhere safe. Then, drain the water and repeat the process.
If you are still unhappy with the results, whether it is a piece of diamond jewelry or another item with a harder gemstone, get a small bowl, like a cereal bowl. Pour some ammonia-based cleaner into the bowl. Add the piece of jewelry and let it soak overnight. Then, put the plug in the sink and rinse it off under running water.
If the jewelry scratches easily, read our article How to Clean Jewelry to learn the proper cleaning technique.
Tricks and Tips to Take Care of Your Jewelry
Jewelry can be a significant investment. On the other hand, it may be a piece that you dearly love or a family heirloom. Taking care of your jewelry does not have to be complicated.
Wipe Your Jewelry Before Storing It
Moisture can lead to many problems, including tarnishing and gemstone discoloration. Water can also make cracks and fissures bigger over time. Therefore, always use a soft towel and wipe your jewelry before putting it away. Pay special attention to areas where water might collect to ensure that they are free of water and debris. Store your jewelry in a place that is not humid, such as your bedroom, instead of the bathroom.
Keep Your Jewelry in the Dark
Sunlight can change the appearance of the jewelry. In the case of some gemstones, like amethyst, rose quartz, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, they can fade if you expose them to too much direct light. Other pieces, like amber gemstones, get darker. Avoid these issues by keeping your jewelry in the dark. It is best to take the jewelry and wipe it down as soon as you take it off. Then, put it in the bag that came with the piece of jewelry. If you did not get a bag, store the jewelry in a velvet pouch. The thickness of the pouch will help protect your jewelry from sunlight.
Put On You Jewelry Last
Whether you are getting ready to go out for a night on the town or getting ready for work, you should always put on your jewelry last. If you decide to use hand lotion during the day, then take your jewelry off. It is best to take it off when washing your hands unless you are afraid you may lose it. Chemicals in skincare products and cleaning products can damage jewelry, and therefore, you should minimize contact with them as much as possible. If your jewelry comes in contact with these products, give it a quick rinse and dry it off well.
Now that you have an idea of the different materials used in jewelry and how to care for your pieces and keep them safe, we will dive deeper into the different types of jewelry in the next chapter. Men and women will get styling help, so you will want to keep reading.
When shopping for new jewelry, the same checklist can be helpful as it helps you focus on what types of jewelry you might want to add to your wardrobe.
Types of jewelry: Complete A-Z list
A recent survey shows that the average woman owns over $7,000 in jewelry, including her wedding ring. If you do not own that much, it may be time to add new pieces to your wardrobe.
You may want unique pieces to wear on different occasions. For example, you may want to wear small earrings, a watch and a simple ring to work daily. When it is time to run errands, a bracelet and a watch may be enough. You may want to wear a necklace, watch, toe ring, and anklet for dressy occasions. Of course, it is also important to choose pieces based on the vibe you want to create. In order to make sure that you have the right jewelry, consider this list of types of jewelry.
Anklets date back to at least the Bronze Age. There are over 20 different types of anklets worn by women in the 21st century. You may want to consider a simple gold or silver chain. Alternatively, opt for a precious metal anklet with a more intricate design. From small seed-beaded to large beads, wearing a beaded anklet can be a great way to add color to a casual outfit. Create a boho look by wearing a wrap anklet. Wearing charm anklets is a popular way to add a touch of whimsy to a casual outfit. One unique option is to wear a toe ring anklet with a chain running between a toe ring and the anklet. Other popular options include:
Men can also wear anklets. A popular choice when wearing shorts is to wear a leather anklet. Even if you are stuck on land for the day, create a beach vibe by wearing a seashell anklet. Beaded anklets can add a bit of spark to a drab outfit. Hemp anklets adorned with beads are a popular choice, but be careful not to get wet. The more adventurous man may also want to wear braided, feathered, corded, or precious metal anklets.
Archeologists have discovered a bracelet in Siberia that is more than 5,000 years old. Women can find many attractive choices, including:
- Bangles – These bracelets have no clasp, and they slide on the wrist. They are normally layered.
- Chain – These bracelets typically have interlinking metal loops.
- Tennis – These bracelets often have a row of diamonds or gemstones, giving them a very sophisticated look.
- Cuff – These wide bracelets have an opening in the back to make them easier to put on, and manufacturers often make them of metal.
- Charm – These metal bracelets often have small keepsakes attached to them.
- Beaded – These bracelets containing beads of various sizes are often used to create a boho look.
- Peral – These sophisticated bracelets are often white, but they can be black or pink. Some bracelets contain real pearls, while others contain imitation ones.
Like women, men have lots of choices in bracelets, including:
- Leather – Various styles of leather bracelets are available, like cuff, braided, and wrap. Most are worn with casual outfits.
- Metal – Depending on the style, it’s easy to find a sophisticated one, like a cuff option, or create a more casual look with a chain bracelet.
- Rope – Many men love wearing a rope bracelet, like a paracord, nautical, or natural one.
Since the Bronze Age, people have been wearing brooches. While they designed the first ones to secure clothing on the wearer’s body, you can find many different options today, including:
- Bar – This option looks like a hairpin, but you wear it on the lapel.
- Pendant – These brooches often have a hidden pin on their back for pinning onto fabric along with loops so that the wearer can choose to add a chain and wear it as a necklace.
- Foliate – Many of these brooches use diamonds or gemstones to create a natural design, like leaves or flowers.
- Enamel – Artists create these colorful brooches by applying powdered glass on top of a metal.
While men did not wear brooches for many years, that trend has reversed. Options include:
- Celtic- These brooches have a design attached by a ring to a long pin.
- Antique – A wide variety of antique brooches for men are available, like people, animals, and geometric patterns made from many different materials, with iron and bronze especially popular.
- Vintage – These pieces often have gemstones and diamonds and are made from various materials, like plastic, gold, and silver.
- Hub – These small copper or iron brooches are decorated with small gemstones.
Cameos are a type of brooch, and people probably made the first ones about 2500 years ago. Most show a raised face on a flat background. You can find brooches in a variety of styles, including:
- Headstone – These pieces contain a hand-carved gemstone head.
- Layered agate – These cameos are created by carving agate by hand to resemble a head from a photograph.
- Art – These cameos show mythological or wildlife scenes and are usually hand-carved in Russia or Germany.
- Gemstone – Artists hand-etch portraits into various gemstones.
You can wear cameos in many different ways. They can easily be attached to a short or long necklace to create a sophisticated or casual style. Cameo earrings are often worn with up-dos and do not have to match. It is easy to wear a cameo on your lapel, like a brooch.
People started wearing cufflinks during the 17th century. While men have traditionally worn cufflinks, women have borrowed this fashion trend. Men and women can wear the same style of cufflink. Options include:
- Bullet-back cufflinks – These cufflinks are closed by a metal bar on the cufflink’s bridge that passes through the cuff.
- Whale-back cufflinks – These cufflinks have a short, thick bar attached to the bridge that passes through the cuff.
- Fixed-back cufflinks – These cufflinks have no movable parts, and they slide through the cuff.
- Ball-return cufflinks – These cufflinks have balls on both ends with the smaller ball going on the inside.
- Chain-style cufflinks – These flexible cufflinks have a chain that is usually decorated on both ends.
You can wear cufflinks with at least three different cuff styles. The most common choice is French cuffs, which are folded back and held in place by the cufflink. You can also wear cufflinks with single cuffs, like those found on tuxedo shirts. You can also wear cufflinks with barrel cuffs, which have one or two buttons on the cuff.
Many women do not feel completely dressed unless they have on a pair of earrings. They come in various styles, including:
- Cartlidge – Wear these earrings above the earlobe.
- Chain – Create an elegant look with gold or silver chain earrings.
- Helix – These earrings require a special piercing in the upper earlobe.
- Stud earrings – Usually, a person’s first earrings are a pair of hypoallergenic stud earrings.
- Hoops – While you may instantly think of circular earrings, ovals, triangular and square earrings are all available.
- Ball – These earrings made from various materials have a ball on the end of them.
- Dangling – Often in a bold design, these earrings hang below your earlobe.
- Drop – These earrings ending right below your earlobe come in various styles are great for formal and casual outfits.
- Clip0n – These earrings have a special closure, so they do not require a person to pierce their ears.
Men will also find a variety of styles in earrings, including:
- Magnetic – These earrings have magnets holding them in place.
- Hoops – Most guys choose smaller earrings when wearing this style.
- Dangle – These earrings have a small chain, and they often have a charm.
- Studs – These earrings are similar to those worn by women.
Men and women wear various necklaces, and the style of those necklaces often varies by the person’s location. Yet, some necklace styles never seem to go out of style. They often make great additions to your collection because you will find yourself wearing them often. These include:
- Lavalier – This chain-style necklace ends in a pendant or tassel.
- Festoon – These necklaces have swags of chains forming the design.
- Sautoir – These long-chain or bead necklaces usually end in a pendant.
- Choker – These necklaces fit tightly around the neck and can be made of various materials, including metal, beads, and pearls.
- Riviere – These necklaces are usually 14-or-16-inches long and have a row of gemstones their entire length.
- Bayadere – These necklaces often made of string beads have multiple strings twisted or braided together.
- Bib – These necklaces appear to have a triangle made of gemstones or diamonds in the front.
- Torsade – Often made with pearls, these necklaces have multiple strands that twist together.
There are also many different styles that men may love, including:
- Dog tags – Men wore the first dog tag necklaces during the Civil War, and they have become a fashion staple.
- Chain – These necklaces usually have interlocking pieces and are often metal.
- Pendant – These necklaces, usually made of metal, feature a decorative item hanging off of them.
- Bead – From small-to-large beads, a variety of choices are available, with many men preferring darker colors.
For the last 6,000 years, many people have not felt dressed if they did not have at least one ring on. You can find rings in almost every culture worldwide, and men and women wear them. Most rings metal, but it is essential to think about what metal works best for your lifestyle and which you like best. I have already provided you with a lot of details in the previous chapter, but a quick review may be in order. Options include:
- Platinum – You can find rings that are 99% platinum. They are naturally hypoallergenic and budget-friendly.
- Palladium – These white rings are very durable and will not tarnish.
- White gold – Manufacturers make these rings by plating gold with another metal, usually rhodium. They may need replating after several years.
- Yellow gold – These rings are made from a mixture of gold and another mineral, usually copper or silver, because pure gold is too soft.
- Rose gold – Sometimes called pink or red gold, these rings get their color from the minerals mixed with the gold.
- Silver- This is a popular choice because it is often inexpensive. It is very malleable, so it can easily be made into many fun styles.
- Titanium- This dark metal is very lightweight and extremely durable.
- Zirconium – Rings made with this metal will be grayish-white and incredibly strong.
- Tungsten Carbide – These rings are incredibly strong, but they can be brittle.
- Steel – This hypoallergenic metal is often used in fashion rings.
Before about 1990, toe rings were worn almost exclusively by women, but that has changed. While many designs are unisex, other options look best on men or women. Options for women include:
- Bead – Often made of seed beads, these are a favorite of preteens and teens.
- Silver – These toe rings often have patterns on them are a great option with casual outfits.
- Sterling silver – These toe rings often have intricate design details and usually look great with Bohemian outfits.
- Silver toe ring with stone – These toe rings often have a large stone that is perfect for matching with your favorite outfit.
- Bead and stone – Create a casual appearance with toe rings that have small beads and stones.
Guys do not have to get left out of the action of wearing toe rings. Options include:
- Silver – Guys may want to consider silver bands as they look great with many outfits.
- Metal Celtic knots – Toe rings with Celtic knots often look great with beach and nautical attire.
- Gold bands – These wide bands usually have artistic designs, and they look great when worn on a dinner date.
- Two-toned bands- These bands, often made of gold and silver, are a popular option that goes with many outfits.
Before the 20th century, women were the only ones to wear watches, and they wore them as a fashion statement. Meanwhile, most men carried a pocket watch. While wearing a watch may not be as popular today, everyone should have several in their wardrobe. Options include:
- Casual – These watches usually have a minimalistic look and a leather band.
- Dress – Select from various refined finishes and a firmer movement by choosing these watches.
- Luxury – These watches made of gold, platinum, titanium, or high-tech ceramics are made by the best clockmakers in the world and certified to keep accurate time.
- Sports – These rugged watches look great with your gym outfit.
- Dive – Manufacturers design these watches to handle being underwater for long periods.
- Smart – These watches often pair with your phone or have other special features.
Jewelry for Men
Men have many different options in jewelry, so it is easy to choose options that are perfect for any look.
You can put together a beautiful casual outfit by wearing a pendant necklace with a thin gold chain with your favorite tee. Opt for a gold bracelet, like a gold cuff bracelet. Consider a plain one or one with a symbol similar to your pendant. Complete the look with a gold toe ring that is a solid band.
If you are going out on a date, feel confident about the jewelry that you are wearing. Regardless of where you are going, all your jewelry should be the same metal. Consider wearing a nice dress watch with a simple design. If you choose not to wear a watch, select a leather bracelet that wraps around your wrist once or twice. Wearing earrings is up to you, but if you embrace this trend, choose a small conservative pair and wear them in both ears. A stainless-steel chain necklace looks fantastic on a date.
You can easily wear jewelry to work. This is a great time to wear a silver ring. Select one that makes a bold fashion statement, like a silver box ring with a gemstone on top of it. Then, pair it with a luxury watch with a silver clasp.
If you are going to a black-tie event, you should wear your best jewelry. Metallic cufflinks in a simple style are the most formal choice. Your wedding ring is always acceptable to wear. You will need to judge the crowd likely to be in attendance, but you can usually wear a fraternity or university ring. If you have a lovely necklace with personal meaning, such as a religious one, then you can wear it tucked into your shirt to most black-tie events.
Jewelry for women
Women have an incredible array of jewelry that they can wear depending on the occasion. For a fun day of running errands or hanging out with the family, consider wearing a pair of diamond studs. A long necklace, like a sautoir, is the perfect choice for wearing with a casual dress. You can choose between wearing your favorite casual watch or select a casual gold or silver tennis bracelet. Complete the look with an anklet in a matching color chain going down to a simple toe ring.
Depending on where you work, you may have many choices on what jewelry you wear. If your workplace is conservative, consider wearing a pair of pearl earrings and a pearl choker-style necklace. You can almost always wear your wedding ring, but select a simple gold band ring if you do not own one.
If going on a first date at a restaurant, it is still best to go a little conservative with your jewelry. At the same time, this is the perfect opportunity to wear a pendant or tassel necklace, like a lavalier. Wearing a dress watch is a great sign that you have class. Pair the necklace and the watch with a pair of stud earrings that help to pull the two together so that you do not get too many colors going on. Especially if you have beautiful hands, wear a ring in the same metal as your earrings with a gemstone on top that matches your necklace, but do not wear it on your ring finger.
Choosing a minimal amount of classical jewelry is usually best for a black-tie event. This is the perfect place to wear diamond helix earrings to give your outfit an unexpected twist. Pair it with a beautiful diamond bib necklace. Complete the look with a diamond cuff bracelet.
In this chapter, I have covered many types of jewelry for men and women, and I have also given you suggestions on when to wear them. One type of jewelry that we have not covered yet is antique and ethnic jewelry, so keep reading as you will want to add some of these pieces to your jewelry collection.
We have one last leg to our jewelry journey. I will be sharing about different types of jewelry from around the world. Some of this jewelry will be new, while some will be over 100 years old.
I deeply love ethnic jewelry because I love learning about different cultures. Like so many areas of art, jewelry reflects the values and beliefs of people in their regions. You may want to add some of these pieces to your jewelry collection, as they are often fun pieces to wear with ethnic outfits.
Some pieces, like antique jewelry, may make decent investments, but I am certainly not an investment banker, so you are on your own in that regard. Others may be a fun way to add your family’s heritage to a special occasion, like your wedding. Still, others may be perfect for giving to a friend from another country.
In the last chapter, I gave you some ideas about when particular types of jewelry were invented. Of course, most of those pieces are in a museum somewhere, but you can find antique jewelry that is fun to wear.
During the 18th century, Queen Victoria influenced what people wore in many ways, including jewelry. The period between 1837 to 1860 is known as the Romantic Period. Every lady wanted to wear a tiara with flowers, branches, leaves, grapes, berries, and serpents engraved or fashioned from gemstones on it along with large cameos with a bold design. This period gave way to the Grand Period between 1860 and 1885, with many jewelry makers using black onyx and black glass to fashion pieces using hair from loved ones. The century ended with jewelers creating smaller pieces featuring peacocks, flowers, insects, and Japanese-inspired designs.
Initially, people used temple jewelry to adorn Indian deities, especially in South India, from the 9th-to-the-16th century. Those of the upper echelon would give these pieces made from cut and uncut kemp, pearls, rubies, emeralds, diamonds created in Kundan, Polka, and Meenakari styles to the temples. These pieces are substantial and usually carved by hand. Many Indian brides choose to incorporate them into their weddings. Couples often choose to wear images of the Lakshmi goddess because they believe it brings good luck and prosperity. You will find other popular themes in temple jewelry, including swans, peacocks, lotus flowers, and other deities. They appear on various jewelry, including anklets, armlets, hair accessories, waist belts, hip chains, and nose rings.
Making bead jewelry has been practiced in India for more than 5,000 years. Artists make various beads, with some being strung together to make fabric, which can later be transformed into bags. Different regions of the country have their specialties. For example, in the Kashmir Valley, beads are often made from synthetic resin and decorated with rhinestones, seed beads, silver plating, and mirror chips. Meanwhile, other jewelers make lac beads from the secretion of small insects living in trees by collecting them by hand and grinding it into a fine powder before using the powder to make beads further adorned with rhinestone, seed beads, and silver plating.
Bridal jewelry takes on many forms worldwide. For example, in some areas of Greece, the person officiating the wedding crowns the bride and groom with a crown that has a ribbon running between the two crowns. Then, the couple keeps the crown above their beds as they are rulers of their home. The bride wears an elaborate headdress made of gold at many weddings in Indonesia. Meanwhile, in China, brides often wear up to 22 pounds of silver jewelry on their wedding days. Some Indian brides wear 16 pieces of gold jewelry to their weddings.
Artists worldwide use a variety of materials to make jewelry. While we have already discussed the use of insects to make jewelry in some parts of India, many artists only need a piece of paper to create beautiful jewels. Other artists collect items from nature to make their jewelry. Artists use Acadia thorns in Belize and Costa Rica to create necklaces and earrings, while artists in Mexico string together Mescal beans to make gorgeous necklaces in Mexico. Coral tree seeds are used in Hawaii to make lavaliere-style necklaces. Artists use a variety of woods from around the world to make rings, including oak, ash, hickory, birch, sandalwood, and eucalyptus.
Fashion jewelry is also called costume jewelry, and it is made from metals that tarnish and bend easily. When present, imitation stones are used. Styles of costume jewelry have changed over time. For instance, jewelry makers used imitation pearls to create layered necklaces in the 1920s. Artists working during the Great Depression often used molded glass and Bakelite. During wartime rationing, artists used shells and large imitation pearls to make beautiful bib-style necklaces in the 1950s.
I love to go shopping in thrift stores to find these items. It is always a fun afternoon, and you can often come away with real bargains in fun fashion pieces to wear.
Archeological finds in Mesopotamia show that jewelry makers have been creating filigree jewelry for the last 5,000 years, and it still goes on today. Making filigree jewelry is also practiced in many parts of Asia, especially India. Regardless of location, artists twist and untwist tiny metal threads to create intricate designs. In some cases, they also incorporate tiny metal threads. You can see many pieces in museums worldwide, but if you are looking for a bargain, consider mass-produced pieces.
Tribal jewelry is made by artists using materials found in their local environment. Common materials used include bone, horn, coral, and pearl. Each piece has a spiritual meaning that is important to the artist. You can find tribal jewelry made by indigenous tribes around the world. For example, Afghanistan jewelry makers use deep blue Lapis Lazuli stone to make beautiful bib-style necklaces. Artists in Thailand often make large Hmong earrings utilizing a combination of zinc-copper-nickel metals. In the Dominican Republic, artists create many types of jewelry using turquoise-colored shells. Native Americans use various materials to create tribal jewelry, including turquoise pieces from New Mexico and seed beads from Nebraska.
Artists create Polki jewelry in India, where brides often wear it on their wedding day. This jewelry uses uncut and unpolished diamonds to create beautiful jewelry pieces. Artists use enamel to add color to their work. At other times, artists may incorporate gemstones into their pieces. Many jewelry makers using this technique live in Bikaner, Rajasthan. India, where the art of making Polki jewelry has been passed down from one generation to the next for more than 2,500 years. Artists make various pieces, including nose rings, headdresses, necklaces, earrings, and rings.
The word Kundan means highly refined gold, and it is the metal of choice for artists creating Kundan jewelry. Artists in Rajasthan, Punjab, and Bihar, India, produce most of these pieces. Many jewelry makers add diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and topaz to their works. When these stones are incorporated, the artist traces the stone’s shape and carefully carves out a space for the gem in the gold. Then, they insert the gemstone into the hole. Others use a process similar to enameling. While artists always used gold in previous centuries, you will see silver pieces done in this style today to help lower prices.
Artists create a picture when making Minakari jewelry coating natural or artificial imperfections in brass, copper, silver, and gold with enamel. Minakari can be divided into two subsets. In Ek rang khula, jewelry makers use a single color. Brides often choose this technique for bridal jewelry and match the enamel color to their wedding color. The second subset is panchrangi, and this technique uses white, pale blue, dark blue, red, and dark green to create jewelry. Several people often work together to make these pieces. A goldsmith creates the outline, which an enamel artist paints by hand before a third person often adds precious gemstones.
Navratna jewelry always contains diamond, ruby, emerald, coral, pearl, yellow sapphire, blue sapphire, hessonite, and cat’s eye gemstones. According to people of the Hindu faith living in India, these gemstones represent supernatural powers as each is associated with a celestial deity. People practicing Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism have similar beliefs making this jewelry more universally appealing. Most often, necklaces have a ruby in their middle as it represents the sun, so placing it in the center is seen to embrace nature’s orderly flow.
I have covered a lot of material quickly in this post. I hope you have enjoyed learning about the different materials used in jewelry making and the different types of jewelry. I especially enjoyed sharing with you about different types of jewelry made worldwide.
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