“Jewelry has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique.” — Elizabeth Taylor.
Jewelry is a universal form of embellishment. These ornamental pieces are not just for decoration. They reflect the culture, beliefs, traditions, and history of humanity. Jewelry has always been more than an accessory. From simple beads and shells to ornate pieces with precious stones, these pieces are a symbol of wealth, social roles, and status.
Not only that, but jewelry can also be a way to express personality and make a visual statement. It’s customary to improve one’s appearance by wearing necklaces, watches, rings, and so on. They become part of a person’s unique style.
Jewelry often holds sentimental value. Examples are heirloom pieces and unique jewelry given by family or someone you deeply care for. Jewelry can also be a subtle and attractive reminder of a special occasion, place, or milestone. Wedding and engagement rings are classic examples.
Other jewelry pieces are worn for practical purposes. A watch lets you stay on top of your schedule, while a cufflink or brooch keeps clothing in place.
Jewelry designs and materials shift noticeably each season. Distinct jewelry styles usually arise in each generation, with some repeating every decade or so. Even with its many forms and changing trends, jewelry is here to stay.
WHAT IS the history OF JEWELRY?
Jewelry came from the anglicized form “jocale,” a Latin word for “plaything.” In prehistoric times, people made jewelry out of bones, shells, and stones. Men and women loved to decorate their bodies, a universal desire that led to an industry dedicated to jewelry making.
History shows that the Cro-Magnons, the ancestors of Homo sapiens, first started wearing body ornaments using crude necklaces made of bone and teeth. These early men and women would also wear stones sewn into animal hides. Back then, jewelry showed both strength and beauty.
Over the centuries, different cultures have assigned various meanings and functions to jewelry. They believe that certain pieces can ward off evil or bring good luck. Jewelry was also commissioned to pay tribute to gods and decorate places of worship.
Not only that, but these ornaments also have economic value. Jewelry pieces made from beads and shells were used in trading before currency was invented. They are often part of a woman’s dowry and are used to seal alliances between families.
About 3,000 to 5,000 years back, the people living along the Nile River fell in love with the glimmer, scarcity, and workability of gold. Thus, one of the primary missions of the Egyptians was to have an abundant supply of this precious metal. They amassed gold from the deserts of Africa and more from the territories and kingdoms that they captured.
In the land of pyramids and the Sphinx, jewelry became a symbol of power. Pharaohs and their queens were adorned in elaborate crowns, pectorals, and bracelets. Even in death, they are still garbed in sparkles when a collection of gold jewelry is buried with them. Egyptians also created jewelry made out of faience, a form of ceramic, as well as colorful beads made from semi-precious stones.
In Mesopotamia, jewelry was made from metal inlaid with colorful stones and gems like jasper, agate, carnelian, and lapis lazuli. These stones were set to the region's favorite patterns of cones, clusters of grapes, leaves, and spirals.
Their jewelry was designed both for the living and the dead. Archaeologists have discovered ancient Mesopotamian jewelry near statues and cenotaphs.
The early Greeks preferred to use bronze, clay, gems, gold, ivory, and silver for jewelry. Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, they adopted a more Asian approach.
A hallmark of Greek jewelry is the brooch, which was used to secure the robes and flowing clothes common in ancient times. You can still see this in the Greek statues in museums.
Initially, these brooches were made of bone, bronze, glass beads, gold, and pearl. Later on, they incorporated Sri Lankan sapphires and Indian diamonds. Amber and emeralds were also subsequently added to the designs.
The Italians' fascination with jewelry was apparent in their collection of bracelets, clasps, earrings, and necklaces made from crude gold. Early Romans had a penchant for jewelry that served practical purposes, including brooches and pieces used to hold small amounts of perfumes.
Italian Gold Jewelry
Jewelry making and gold-smithing were honorable trades in ancient Rome. The Etruscans of Tuscany were known for their granulation method for crafting gold pieces. The styles were an eclectic mix inspired by the regions and colonies of the Roman empire.
India has a rich tradition of jewelry making. Different castes would wear earrings and necklaces made from beads, gold, and other metals. Women wore clay necklaces and shell bracelets as well as tiaras painted in black. Gradually, the use of glass and metals replaced clay. This love for jewelry continues until the present day.
Modern India Jewelry
HOW DO jewelry trends differ AROUND THE WORLD?
Jewelry trends are influenced by culture, history, and customs. They also reflect the economic and political status of a nation, particularly the materials available locally.
If you observe jewelry trends globally, you’ll notice that some styles are popular no matter where you are. The latest necklace style in the US will soon be worn in Hong Kong or Sydney, cities an ocean away.
Despite this, it’s still possible to identify certain pieces of jewelry by their countries of origin.
For thousands of years, the people of Africa have used colorful beaded jewelry to distinguish tribes and social status. African beads are made from various materials ranging from glass, wood, bone, and much-coveted ivory.
Traditional African Beaded Jewelry
Both men and women wear jewelry but more so during an African marriage ceremony. African jewelry indicates important information like whether a woman is married or if a man is in a relationship. A respected elder or leader of a tribe would have jewelry denoting authority.
African beads are also used to exchange messages. These beads are referred to as Zulu beads and are almost like a language between both genders. The patterns and arrangements of the beads, including the sizes and colors used, are equivalent to a conversation.
While modern jewelry has become more common, traditional beads are still the mainstream adornment in this continent. If you are looking for tradition and contemporary rolled in one, African jewelry is a great example. People incorporate bead jewelry with the latest popular jewelry designs.
Indian jewelry stands out for its elaborate gold filigree work. Despite the fashionable jewelry trends of the US, India stays true to its love for gold, with plenty of precious and semi-precious stones incorporated in the designs. Expect shining diamonds, rubies, pearls, sapphires, emeralds, and garnets.
Indian jewelry is a showstopper, thanks to the intricate patterns and sheer quantity of precious materials. These pieces, especially those worn by brides, reflect a matriarchal culture that honors female authority and power.
Today, the jewelry of India still falls under three primary categories:
If you want to see the most lavish and massive Indian jewelry, then you need to attend a wedding ceremony. Expect to see intricate lacings and raw gemstones in full display. Bridal jewelry usually has animal and nature motifs — delicate flowers, bunches of fruit, and playful wildlife rendered in gemstones of various hues.
Eye-catching jewelry is a must for the Indian bride. An example is a choker referred to as Manga Malai, which is made up of 46 pendants that are mango-shaped with a diamond set in the middle. Each pendant is surrounded by rubies and is held in place by two gold chains. This piece of wedding jewelry is the epitome of India's culture, tradition, and heritage.
These adornments are worn during spiritual celebrations and times of prayer. These ornaments are inspired by gods and goddesses from Hinduism. One of the most widespread designs honors Ganesha, the sacred elephant-head god. The “Om” is another common theme, as it is considered a good luck talisman.
Jewelry is also used to decorate the statues of the gods and goddesses. Temple dancers and people attending worship also wear special pieces. While they are less elaborate, they still show intricate patterns and excellent craftsmanship.
Today, jewelers in India have adopted a more contemporary twist on the conventional Indian adornments. They’ve replaced the traditional emeralds, diamonds, and ruby stones with onyx, amethyst, and jade.
As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, China’s jewelry trend has evolved for the last thousand years. This country is known for its piercing, punching, and filigree techniques.
Chinese jewelry makes heavy use of gold, silver, and jade. Jade is regarded as a lucky stone and a spiritual talisman that can protect the one who wears it. This semi-precious stone represents familial love, morality, grace, and protection. It is also said to be a link to dynasties and their descendants.
You will see that men and women in China would have a piece of jade jewelry, typically as a charm in a bracelet, pendant, belt, or hair accessory. Jade jewelry pieces are passed down through generations, usually in the form of animal designs.
Traditional Chinese Jade Jewelry
Distinctive Chinese designs include:
- Sinuous dragons for good luck and power
- Swimming goldfish for abundance
- The mythical phoenix for opportunities and money
- Delicate foliage designs, flowers, and clouds are also popular.
One of the longstanding customs is creating jewelry as part of the dowry to ensure a successful marriage. The traditional bridal robe is a red dress with a golden crown. These two are symbols of good health and a favorable future.
After the wedding ritual, a tea ceremony follows, and this is where the bride is presented with a wide variety of gold jewelry. Upon receipt, she must automatically wear it to attract and guarantee good fortune in her married life.
When Mexican jewelry is mentioned, you will probably think of bold and bright colors. There is some truth to this, but silver is Mexico's most popular jewelry. With its abundance of silver, Mexico has been a leader in silver jewelry making. This precious metal is paired with gemstones like amethyst, amber, onyx, and turquoise.
Mexican Turquoise Jewelry With Aztec Influence
Local plants and animals are common themes in Mexican jewelry. The most common designs are:
- Fish that symbolize life
- Flowers for beauty and creation
- Jaguars depicting confidence and power
- Snakes that symbolize honor and worship
The ornaments from this country are a striking mix of Aztec, Mayan, and Spanish influences.
The Celts are world-renowned craftsmen, metalsmiths, and warriors. They prize bravery, fighting prowess, and beauty. Historical records show that when the Celts go into battle, they wear nothing but their weapons and jewelry. This way, opponents can recognize their athletic abilities and status.
In battle, they wear torcs which are neck rings made from gold, iron, bronze, and silver. They show how wealthy the warrior is. These neck rings are heavily engraved and can be taken as a victory token when defeated in battle.
Traditional Claddagh Ring
Today, one of the global trending jewelry from Ireland is the Claddagh ring. It boasts a unique design consisting of a heart held between two hands with a crown on top of each hand. This design can be interpreted in various ways with the heart for love, hands for friendship, and the crown for loyalty.
In Ireland, lovers and close friends would exchange the Claddagh rings. It has become a go-to option for promise rings and friendship tokens worldwide.
Another interesting fact about this Ireland jewelry is the way you wear it alters the meaning. If you wear it with the heart pointed in towards the two arms, it means that you have a romantic interest. But if the heart is pointing outwards, you are seeking love.
Additionally, when you wear it on your left hand, it means that you’ve been or currently in a serious relationship. When you wear it on your right hand, you are only into friendship and casual relationships.
NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY
These jewelry pieces often have geometric patterns from different tribes like the Apache, Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni. You will also notice the use of feathers and seashells set in an elaborate metalwork base.
Another unique characteristic is the combination of silver and turquoise. Turquoise is a favorite when set into bracelets, metal rings, pendants, and armbands.
Native American Turquoise Jewelry
Feathered headdresses are often associated with Native American tribes. Traditionally, jewelry pieces with feathers are worn by a tribe elder and leader. Today, feathers are used more often as an accent.
Of all the Native American jewelry, it is the concho that has stood the test of time. This intricately designed belt is typical in the Navajo and Zuni tribes. In marriage ceremonies, the concho is worn by both the bride and the groom and is handed down to families.
Each concho is made of braided leather and huge oval pieces of turquoise and silver. The gemstones form patterns that demand great skill and a lot of attention to detail.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT jewelry trends AROUND THE WORLD?
Despite the global pandemic, the jewelry industry is still going strong. Trending jewelry of the previous years is making a comeback, along with new designs that are invading the market. Here are some of the jewelry trends that the world is following.
As they say, “If you have it, flaunt it.” Chunky necklaces, huge rings, and bulky bracelets are some of the trending jewelry 2021. Tubular and thick accessories are popular fashion statements nowadays. These are made from gold, silver, and more modern materials like plastic and stainless steel.
Oversized Statement Necklace
All that hardware may seem uncomfortable, but they are worth the effort. Given their size, you are sure to stand out from the crowd.
THIN & LAYERED
In contrast to oversized and chunky jewelry, one trend that is taking everyone by storm is layered jewelry. The best words to describe this trend are elegant, delicate, and feminine.
Fine strands of gold and silver of varying lengths create a classic look suitable for all ages. Necklaces made from various materials add a touch of sophistication to minimalistic outfits.
Gold Layered Necklaces
Stacked bracelets have been one of the most long-lasting jewelry trends. Thin rings worn at various levels in the fingers provide a refined aesthetic that’s practical for everyday wear.
If you follow fashionable jewelry trends 2021, you are probably adept at mixing and matching contrasting pieces. Chunky jewelry can be paired with more delicate pieces. This year, a statement necklace can complement minimal pieces, say an oversized chain choker with two to three long thin strand necklaces.
Contrasting Rings & Bracelets
Don’t just throw pieces together willy-nilly. To keep things cohesive, follow a particular theme like florals, tribal, or nautical. Some go for all silver, all gold, or old rose hues.
IDENTITY & MEMORIAL JEWELRY
If you like to have your name necklace, then it has to be the best that the market has to offer. You can check this comprehensive guide on how to choose one. Moreover, birthstone jewelry is also incorporated in pendants, rings, and bracelets. Your birthstone can give that much-needed pop of color to your stainless, silver, or gold name jewelry.
Memorial jewelry can be a creative way of remembering loved ones. Modern style name necklace may have parts that can hold ashes. When you are looking into this kind of jewelry, consider commissioning a fingerprint pendant to pair with a simple chain. You can also buy an accessory with a loved one’s handwriting engraved on it.
For millennia, humanity has looked at the skies with wonder. It’s no surprise that a lot of jewelry pieces echo this fascination with heavenly bodies. Gold is used to show the brilliance of the sun, diamonds for the twinkling of the stars, and silver for the luminous glow of the moon.
Celestial Inspired Jewelry
Ancient civilizations attribute power, magic, myths, and mystery to these three heavenly symbols. Their shapes are also used as patterns for ornaments.
Recent jewelry trends include constellation and galaxy-inspired earrings and necklaces. These are usually based on telescope images of distant stars and planets, which are depicted with precious stones and metal. Related themes feature designs from the horoscope and tarot card deck.
SINGLE HOOPS & STUDS
Among the trending jewelry 2021 are simple earrings that lie close to the skin. Chandelier earrings and exaggerated hoops are taking the backstage to these no-fuss pieces. Some wearers opt for just one pair, while those with multiple piercings may have a variety of designs in one ear.
Hoops & Studs Combined
Gold and silver single hoops in smaller diameters are usually preferred. Shimmering pearls and diamond studs are also favorites. These minimalistic earrings are ideal for everyday wear, especially for those who want to avoid the stress of matching jewelry to outfits.
CHAINS & CHARMS
One of the trending jewelry of 2020 is rolling over to 2021. Necklaces with chunky chains and a padlock pendant have kept their top spot. Bracelets with personalized charms remain quite popular as well.
You probably grew up with these traditional necklaces and bracelets. There’s a reason for their continuing popularity. This trend is quite versatile and works for both day-to-day fashion and special occasions.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT to follow the latest JEWELRY TRENDS?
Wearing jewelry or any adornment is a personal choice. Jewelry pieces are an extension of your personality, whether they are something you have picked out on purpose or randomly. Some hold a deeper meaning, especially those for memorial jewelry, heirlooms, and pieces that you received from someone special.
However, it pays to keep an eye on the latest jewelry trends globally. It’s not mandatory, but there are compelling reasons to follow these trends:
UPDATE YOUR JEWELRY
For the more fashion-conscious, wearing the same pieces over and over again sounds bland. If you want to stand out from the crowd, it helps to wear different pieces each season. Since jewelry is a way to channel your character, having the latest bits and pieces of sparklers can help you bring out your inner self.
Once in a while, adding an excellent piece from the jewelry trends 2021 can be a smart move since it will always be an additional investment to your growing collection. You don't need to have all of whatever is trending. But if a piece catches your eye, you can indulge then mix and match it with your current collection.
GIVE YOURSELF MORE OPTIONS
You can never have too many shoes, and it's the same with jewelry. Having plenty of accessories and purchasing a few from the latest trends can help you change your look and overall vibe as needed.
This is especially applicable for people working in industries where physical appearance is vital. From clothes, makeup, and jewelry, everything should match the image you wish to project.
Do you need to interact with customers face to face? Are you in a position of authority? Do you want a career in politics, media, or entertainment? Investing in both trending and classic pieces is a good idea.
ACCENT YOUR WARDROPE
Additionally, having more jewelry means having more styles to explore. Sure, having more options can usually make the decisions more complicated, but it allows you to experiment. You can use the same wardrobe but achieve a different look every time, thanks to your updated jewelry collection.
Jewelry can give your limited wardrobe hundreds of possibilities making it suitable for all occasions. That staple little black dress can go from daywear to evening wear simply by swapping jewelry. You can go from casual and fun to elegant and formal instantly. You can only manage to get these looks only if you have enough accessories to play with.
Your wardrobe should have staples in nudes, blacks, greys, and whites. Then, update each outfit with watches, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings.
LEAVE A LEGACY FOR YOUR LOVED ONES
A lot of people purchase jewelry with a long-term plan in mind. They seek to leave a legacy of beautiful and expensive pieces that will be appreciated for generations. Since fashion trends repeat, popular jewelry 2021 can still be worn decades from now. Remember, jewelry from the 18th and 19th century can be worn today if they are properly stored and maintained.
Jewelry can last for more than a lifetime, making these ornaments a great legacy for your future children and grandchildren. Your favorite necklace or wedding ring can be passed on for hundreds of years. Each piece serves as tangible reminders of family stories and values.
SELECT THE BEST GIFT
You don’t need to overthink or stress over your gift selection if you follow jewelry trends. Jewelry is suitable for most occasions: anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, weddings — the list goes on and on. Almost anyone can wear jewelry, no matter their age, status, or gender.
Check out our Engravable Personalized Gift Guide. We have gifts for everyone!
These ornaments are also the perfect “just because” present. If you wish to express affection or appreciation, look no further than the latest jewelry catalog. See your loved one’s face light up when you give name necklaces 2021 or birthstone jewelry out of the blue. Your family and friends would surely appreciate presents that hold both material and emotional value.
EXPRESS YOUR PERSONALITY
Brooches and jewels with specific stones and subjects can express a view. It can be a political movement, religious belief, or a personal stand, and jewelry can be a sparkly way to say it out loud.
Today, body piercings have become a statement. Heavily tattooed people pair their body art with jewelry to express their creativity and excel in whatever profession they are involved in.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND the latest JEWELRY TRENDS?
If your mission is to be on top of all global trending jewelry, you need to tap the right resources. You don’t need to leave your home to buy the newest designs, as most popular jewelry 2021 designs are available online.
Looking for fashion and accessory refresh? Here are some go-to options for the hottest jewelry designs:
ONLINE FASHION SHOWS
You don’t need to go to fashion capitals like Paris or New York to see the latest offerings. Virtual runways are experiencing a surge in popularity. You can spot a good piece of jewelry on these online shows. A fashion show lasts anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes.
Fashion Show Jewelry
Online fashion shows today are formatted in a more creative style. The conventional catwalk parade of models is still there, but they are not just marching in an empty space. Often, you will see mini-movie clips in various locations that highlight the brand's jewelry.
What's more, virtual fashion shows are more accessible. The internet is the great equalizer, as everyone gets front-row seats on their screens.
You can watch it via a paid link, which is usually displayed on the brand's website or email newsletter. To reach a wider audience, these shows are uploaded on the social media and home pages of top fashion houses during fashion week.
ONLINE JEWELRY STORES
Online shopping is experiencing a golden age, with more people preferring this option to brick-and-mortar stores. Jewelry fans are no exceptions.
Another positive impact is that the marketing strategies of almost all industries — jewelry included — have shifted. Digital marketing and e-commerce are now at the forefront. Everyone now has an online platform so consumers can shop and purchase with the utmost convenience.
It’s also easier to compare prices and designs since you can just open several tabs as you shop.
Online Jewelry Shopping
The only drawback here is not being able to feel the texture of the jewelry or trying it out before purchasing. There’s nothing like wearing a necklace and seeing it against your skin. Good thing that most jewelry stores have clear exchange and return policies for online customers.
It’s always a good idea to ask local businesses about their latest offerings. Ask them to mail you catalogs and collections for each season. You can also visit their websites. Not only are you improving the economy, these smaller stores usually have a more personal approach and better customer service.
Nothing beats being able to physically appreciate and see how perfect the necklace, earring, ring, or bracelet looks on you. Some shoppers, particularly women, also feel the jewelry and base their purchase on a feeling that a particular piece gives them.
Make sure you call your local jeweler first and check their current processes for shopping. Some follow an appointment system to ensure that there would only be a minimal number of customers at a particular time.
Today, a trend is not an “official” trend unless it is on social media with millions of likes and thousands of shares. Social media has become a powerful marketing platform. Brands are looking into the influencers and content creators to market the latest jewelry trends. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tik-tok are some of the top platforms for new trends.
Instagram Jewelry Ad
It is not a hard-selling marketing strategy, but it proves to be effective, especially if you realize how much of an effect social media has on everything. It’s a simple matter to scroll and check the latest fashion news.
Sometimes, a jewelry ad or a post would make you pause and click. Before you realize what is happening, that 30-second clip leads to a significant impulse buy.
JEWELRY TRENDS AROUND THE WORLD frequently asked questions
WHAT IS THE MOST POPULAR JEWELRY OF ALL TIME?
It all depends on your preference. When it comes to voting for the most popular jewelry of all time, it would be a tough competition among the classics: pearls, diamonds, and gold. These three have been with the jewelry industry ever since it began, and they are here to stay.
New trends may come and go, but the three will always be the popular choices. They feature heavily in classic and vintage style jewelry. Aside from being aesthetically beautiful, their worth appreciates over the years. That makes these pieces an excellent investment for jewelry lovers.
WHAT ARE THE JEWELRY TRENDS FOR 2021?
Most of the trends this year were all intended for 2000. Due to the global pandemic, 2020 jewelry styles have carried over to jewelry trends 2021.
Attention-getting chunky jewelry is one such trend. You’ll see a lot of bold jewelry pieces like chunky links, colorful and huge beads, and earrings that can almost cover your entire ear. Some tubular rings can cover half of your finger.
An opposite yet equally popular trend features thin chains. Some pieces do not have any pendants or gems. Rings are plain, almost similar to a wedding band but thinner and barely noticeable. Bracelets are just a single strand with just a few charms.
If you mix and match these two contrasting jewelry styles, you can create a fantastic jewelry statement. It's as if the bold and loud ornaments represent the chaos and surprises of 2021, while the simpler pieces are your means of saying that you've had enough and would like to settle to what's normal.
IF I AM TRAVELING SHOULD I BUY A PIECE OF LOCAL JEWELRY?
It’s an excellent idea to buy local jewelry when you travel, especially if you are on an overseas journey. They make for better souvenirs than random pieces that you won't use and would just eventually accumulate dust.
Years later, these local jewelry pieces can be touchstones of your trip. It will be easier to recall your experiences with a physical reminder. You will also be supporting the tourism industry of your destination.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Subtle pieces with traditional designs or unique gemstones should be enough to commemorate a great trip. If that particular piece can only be found in that country, then that’s even better. You can opt for a simple strand of beads or a brooch to accessorize a plain outfit.
IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO INVEST IN JEWELRY?
Yes. If you choose the right materials and designs, jewelry can potentially increase in monetary value. Precious metals like gold and silver are usually good options. They also act as a buffer in case of a financial emergency when you need cash immediately.
You can never put a price tag on sentimental value either. Unique jewelry is especially a good investment, especially if it has been handed down from one generation to the next.
SET YOUR OWN jewelry trend
Let your choice of jewelry tell yours. You don’t need to spend thousands to make the most of these personal ornaments. By paying attention to the latest trends, you can find the best piece to make a statement.
“Every piece of jewelry tells a story.” Gem Hunt
It doesn’t matter if you are a keen follower of fashionable jewelry trends or have a preference for vintage style jewelry. The important thing is you feel good about whatever you are wearing.
May 29, 2021 by Conor Daniels