The Wizard of Oz painted a spectacular vision of a city sparkling with bling before color even came to the big screen. The gift of ruby red slippers (maybe not technically jewelry) magically transported Dorothy home.
Fast forward to modern times and the brilliance of jewelry still offers meaning and the ability to transport us. Gifts of necklaces, rings and bracelets convey sentiment or a special relationship. They give us a legacy or help us remember a special moment.
Let’s look at the history of gifting bling and the symbolism of it all.
Gifting Jewelry Through the Ages
A glance from early history through today suggests we are losing the art of gifting jewelry with meaning. What might disappear with it?
The Early Beginnings of Gifting
Ancient and prehistoric cultures used colored pebbles, bones, shells and feathers to make less sparkly but more durable pieces of bling. Hunters wore teeth, horn, claws and bones to bring luck to the next day’s hunt.
These tangible creations brought the intangible qualities of self-esteem, a sense of belonging and identity. For instance, the necklaces worn by hunters represented courage and prowess. Early societies donned amulets to ward off bad luck and illness.
Gifting these items brought safety over long journeys. They promised fertility, wealth and love to newly wed couples, and luck and fortune to a new baby. Archeological finds suggest jewelry as a gift may go back 25,000 years.
These early pieces were functional, not decorative or purely fashionable. Pins and brooches held clothing together as clasps. Rings and pendants symbolized identification, rank and authority. They also acted as early seals.
The Growth of Jewelry as a Gift
The introduction of metalworking and sophisticated materials produced decorative pieces. The gifting of jewelry became associated with class and fashion. It also represented human connection for example, wedding rings symbolized commitment.
Cross necklaces grew in popularity as the acceptability of Christianity grew. Christians saw them as symbols of peace and comfort in trying times, like the Black Death and the Age of the Crusaders. Native Americans were gifted silver crosses when they converted to the faith.
The Soul of Modern Gifting
The heart, brain and courage gifted to the Wizard of Oz characters fit their wants and needs. Today, we trade in such personal gifts for the fail-safe gift card. This removes the risk of buying the wrong gift or of financial loss, but gifting becomes transactional and less meaningful.
The social meaning of gifts is lost, the intangible qualities devalued. We must work to reconnect to each other by giving a gift of jewelry that will last a lifetime. Check out the end of this Washington Post article, Searching for a Sense of Meaning in Gifts, to find out why taking a gift-giving risk is important. Spoiler Alert: relationships bloom under such conditions.
Gifting Necklaces, Rings and Bracelets, Oh My!
Reclaiming the meaning behind the jewelry we gift takes us beyond materialism. Our relationships grow deeper as we invest our energies and monies in one another.
Early rings symbolized devotion, eternity, fidelity or a deity. For men, rings were a symbol of power and came with legal authority when adorned with a seal. Today, they represent a bond or an alliance.
The wedding ring’s unending circle represents eternal love. Its position on the fourth finger of the left hand comes from the belief that a vein in this finger leads to the wearer’s heart.
Like the ring finger, the placement of rings sends a message. For instance, rings on the index finger indicate high status. This finger is ideal for class rings or other symbols of accomplishment.
Through the ages, necklaces flaunted social position, counted prayers and converted to money for travelers. Amulets gave spiritual and magical protection against evil spirits. Some of this symbolism survives today.
A necklace on a woman draws attention to her femininity, elegance and charm. For men, the symbolism is fashion related. A man wearing a necklace indicates he is trendy and interested in good looks.
Necklaces as gifts come with emotional value. Mothers pass them down to daughters. Fathers gift them to their girls. A son might present one to his mom on Mother’s Day. The gifter and occasion become part of the meaning behind the piece.
Bracelets hold personal items, like charms, identify medical conditions and signify support of a cause like breast cancer awareness or religious affiliation. Meaning comes from the style and color selection of each bracelet.
Charm Bracelet: The charms or shapes placed around this bracelet represent the wearer. For instance, an anchor may represent a love of the sea and a faithful, loyal character.
Beaded Bracelet: Color and materials bring specific energies or luck to the beaded bracelet wearer. For example, purple beads symbolize creativity. They clear the mind and calm stress.
Gemstone Bracelet: Using birthstones or gemstones with particular meanings represents the wearer’s character and makes a beautiful personal keepsake.
Gifting the Emerald City and Beyond
Legends tell of the emerald’s power to protect against evil (perfect for keeping the Emerald City safe from the Wicked Witch). And, rubies bring safety and peace (ideal for Dorothy’s slippers). Stones add meaning to the jewelry you gift…
The value of a diamond goes beyond a girl’s draw to its brilliance. This clear stone symbolizes deep, everlasting love — and, appropriately so, as the hardest known substance on earth. It symbolizes perfection and strength. And, they bring a host of good things to the wearer, including clarity of mind, energy, power, courage and positive mental health.
These special gemstones associated with your birth month say something about you. For instance, the February birthstone, amethyst, symbolizes wisdom, calm and a deep spirituality.And, the birthstone of November, citrine, means joy and represents people radiate positive energy and tend to be followed by good luck.
Gemstones extend beyond birthstones, as does their symbolism. For a friend struggling with disease, an aquamarine ring offers courage, clarity and good health. Turquoise earrings ward off the ill will of others and offer protection as your daughter ventures into the world after graduation. And, an agate necklace pledges your fidelity to your spouse.
Gifting Bling for Every Occasion
Match a piece of jewelry with a meaningful gemstone and the perfect occasion for a gift that others will cherish for years to come. Need some ideas to get started? Check out a few below.
Wedding anniversaries are a popular time to gift jewelry. Tradition associates yearly anniversaries with certain gemstones. Give mother-of-pearl earrings on a first anniversary or an opal ring on your fourteenth.
The beauty of birthstones makes birthday gift giving simple. Pick a piece of jewelry in your significant other’s birthstone, and wrap it up. A watch with inset diamonds makes a timeless April birthday gift. A sapphire ring encourages honesty of September celebrants.
Jewelry brings meaning to Christmas, Easter, even the first day of spring. Family birthstone rings make for a beautiful and traditional Mother’s Day gift. Earrings studded with the grandchildren’s birthstones give grandma something meaningful to wear.
First communions, confirmations and baptisms call for sentiment. Meaningful jewelry answers the call. The cross necklace began as a gift to converts. It continues as a meaningful symbol of faith today. A crown ring or tree of life necklace also offers deep significance.
Commemorating life’s milestones and successes helps us remember them. Gemstone baby feet charms offer a beautiful remembrance for new moms. A family charm dangling on a graduate’s bracelet reminds her of home as she heads off to college.
Saying What You Mean With Jewelry
Beyond the type of jewelry, stones and occasion, the act of gifting itself instills meaning. Gifts of well-chosen, quality bling send three messages:
– “I am in this for the long haul.” Quality jewelry (rather than the costume version) shows commitment. Cost is not important. Quality is. According to eHarmony, guys who ‘just don’t care’ usually will not spend money on jewelry for their girl.”
– “I get you.” Pieces which are unique or personally meaningful deepen relationships. These types of jewelry purchases require you to pay attention to the wants, needs and uniquenesses of the recipient. Everyone longs to be understood — well-chosen jewelry sends that message.
– “I am interested in you.” Taking the time to pick the perfect necklace or bracelet requires an investment of creativity, time and energy. Your willingness to expend these resources on another human being sends a powerful message about his or her worth.
Mark’s Diamonds offers unique pieces of jewelry which send just the right message to your loved ones. And, our experts help you choose the perfect gift, no matter the occasion. Visit us today.