Thursday, October 1, 2009


Jewellery has been used to denote status. In ancient Rome, for instance, only certain ranks could wear rings; Later, sumptuary laws dictated who could wear what type of jewellery; again based on rank. Cultural dictates have also played a significant role; for example, the wearing of earrings by Western men was considered "effeminate" in the 19th and early 20th centuries. More recently, the display of body jewellery, such as piercings, has become a mark of acceptance or seen as a badge of courage within some groups, but is completely rejected in others. Likewise, the hip hop culture has popularized the slang term bling-bling, which refers to ostentatious display of jewellery by men or women. Conversely, the jewellery industry in the early 20th century launched a campaign to popularize wedding rings for men — which caught on — as well as engagement rings for men - which did not, going so far as to create a false history and claim that the practice had Medieval roots. By the mid 1940s, 85% of weddings in the U.S. featured a double-ring ceremony, up from 15% in the 1920s. Religion has also played a role: Islam, for instance, considers the wearing of gold by men as a social taboo, and many religions have edicts against excessive display.

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