A few years back I wrote a blog in which I stated that I can see what kind of person you are by looking at the jewelry you are wearing. For instance, if you wear a lot of fashion jewelry, you can say that you might be a fashionista or a lover of that kind of jewelry or you belong to the group that can be identified as young, modern, and/or alternative.
The question in this blog is whether the jewelry which is worn by the group you belong to, the so-called cultural jewelry, is or can be also your personal jewelry? Or do you wear quite a different style of jewelry when you are not within your group?
And if you celebrate a personal ceremony, like a wedding or a religious celebration, do you wear your personal jewelry or will you stick to the cultural jewelry, that everyone else might wear?
I was just wondering! And I hope to find the answer by writing this blog. Will you search with me?
Personal and Jewelry identity
Your personal identity says who you are and who is the other person? For a long time, personal identity is regarded as immovable, rigid, and fixed. And scientists thought that you -as a member of society- are mainly shaped by your culture and ethnicity.
In other words, if you are a Chinese girl (for example) turning 15 years old you celebrate as a part of your culture the hairpin ceremony. You get your first beautiful decorated hairpin and you are allowed to wear your hair up (with the use of that hairpin) and you are old enough to date. Your culture and ethnicity determine the moment you are ready for marriage and the moment you cannot wear your hair long anymore.
Jewelry is important for people; it represents a memorable moment you received a certain piece of jewelry and it means something special. Jewelry is the base (together with clothing) of your social and cultural identity. For instance, when I turned 18 years my father gave me a diamond solitaire ring. That was a habit in our jeweler family and 18 years is a special memorable year in the Netherlands. You may start to drive a car and you may vote for parliament.
But is that ring a symbol of my culture and ethnicity (Dutch) or is that a symbol of the status of my family, my gender, family tradition, my style (am I going to wear that ring or not)?
Cultural jewelry represents the jewelry used by your family, your culture, or your ethnic group. Most of the time it is traditional jewelry, that is very old and has already been used for ages. It can also be jewelry that in design and material has not changed for ages, although you bought it only yesterday.
The old scientific vision on identity, more specific jewelry identity, and cultural jewelry is a bit old-fashioned. Most modern Western scientists agree with that. Depending on the situation people take another role in society. You can see that when people move to another place abroad, away from their tribe (ethnicity). At that moment they can choose whether they stick to their traditions or they can adapt to the new situation, living in another society, with other values.
Or when the culture is changing due to external circumstances, people change too, especially when you see how easily you make new contacts with social media and how fast you get influenced by others in the other part of the world. Influenced when you travel and learn more about our identities and ethnicities.
Your choice: wearing cultural jewelry or not
To make it more complicated you can stick to the old cultural values and cultural jewelry, but give it a personal touch. For instance, a wedding ring in my country was always a simple golden band and the husband and wife wore the same kind of wedding ring. The Catholics wore their ring on the left hand and the Protestants on the right hand. Period. For a long time, there was no discussion possible.
When I married my husband and I choose a yellow and white gold wedding ring, with for me a little diamond. I was brought up as a Catholic in the South of the Netherlands and I wear my wedding ring on my left hand. My husband is brought up without any religion in the North of the Netherlands and he wears it on his right hand. The last thing is ‘normal’ for him since he lived in a Protestant part of the Netherlands and he followed their tradition.
Who are you and what jewelry you wear?
The question about what is your personal identity is merely a search about ‘who are you’. The things that make you a certain person depend on your gender, your religion or vision of life, your character, your look, and your expression. In relation to these things, you wear jewelry that matches best with your personal identity.
The fact is that when you understand yourself better, as years go by, your personal jewelry matches better with your personality. I wrote a PDF about what jewelry matches best with your features, but when you don’t know who you are it is difficult to find or chose matching clothing or matching jewelry. And that match is important to look stunning and get compliments.
Your personal identity is also shaped by your cultural identity, but how much that cultural and ethnic identity influences your personal identity is up to you. The extent to which you let the cultural influence get into you makes you the person you are. Anyway, who you are now.
For example: if the extent of influence from the tribe you belong to is large, you will wear the jewelry that is custom to that culture. You wear a cross when the Catholic cultural influence is large and you wear an amulet if everyone is wearing that. But if the influence is less, you might wear a cross but make from another material or a slightly another shape. Or you don’t wear one at all. Cultural jewelry can be a creative inspiration for what jewelry you wear or cultural jewelry is a stature for you.
Another major influence is status.
You may wear cultural jewelry or personal jewelry to emphasize your role in society or within your tribe (family, identifying group). A king is not wearing a crown because he loves wearing it or because it belongs to his cultural jewelry outfit. No, he is wearing it to emphasize his position in his tribe. He does not choose the type of crown or status symbol he wants to wear, No, his cultural jewelry as a status symbol is part of the identity of the group he is representing.
The same goes for the people who are leaders in their profession, in their groups, or family. The cultural jewelry of your family or of a traditional group is inherited from the mother to the eldest daughter. And she gets a certain status wearing that family cultural jewelry. Will she be able to change that? An wear only part of that cultural jewelry of her family? That is up to you and your personal identity.
Let us go a bit deeper
The question ‘who are you’ in relation to the jewelry you fancy or are wearing. This question can be broken down to how well do you know yourself, in combination with your role in society, your behavior, skills, and the things that you consider as most important in your life. Your personal identity decides what are your basic values and together what choices you make in life.
You or your personal identity can make a choice to conform to your culture and ethnicity and wear your cultural jewelry. Or to say it differently, you wear the kind of jewelry that everyone else in your group or tribe is wearing. The traditional cultural jewelry of your kind is leading in your choice to choose what jewelry to wear.
There is also a choice you can make to confirm just partly to your culture and the cultural jewelry. Like you wear traditional cultural jewelry when you are getting married or when there is a special gathering that is important to your group or tribe. But on other occasions, you don’t wear your cultural jewelry, but jewelry of your own choice and taste.
And you can totally turn away from your culture and all kinds of cultural jewelry. You turn away from your cultural heritage and make your own choices in life and in jewelry. Your personal identity has to be strong to make this choice, but nowadays it will get easier.
First Nation people and their cultural jewelry
I have the utmost admiration for the descendants of the First Nation people in Northern America. They have a very strong cultural identity and they depended on holding on to that identity in order not to lose themselves because there was a danger of being absorbed into a society that was not theirs.
The individual First Nation people had to make a choice to adapt and go forward in life or to stay in their cultural identity and maybe lose their personal identity and chances on a great future and prosperity. The people who had the power and the capabilities to adapt to the present society entered a new cultural identity together with new cultural jewelry. But they found a way to make the best out of the two worlds.
The turquoise with silver jewelry that is so popular and was a real trend in Europe a few years back can be dated back to the cultural heritage and cultural jewelry of the First Nation people. But with a modern touch surrounding it. The result is that people in the whole world choose to wear cultural jewelry from another tribe or group to identify themselves as a person!
Going back to the question in the blog I wrote years ago, where I stated that I can see who you are watching your jewelry. After the research, I did for this blog I am not that sure about that statement anymore.
I don’t know where you come from. I don’t know what your tradition, your culture, or maybe ethnicity is. I don’t know how much you adapted yourself and what choice you made in wearing your cultural jewelry or not, or only partially.
The only thing I do know is that I can see your present personal identity, watching your jewelry. It might be modern, or jewelry you inherited from your mother or grandmother. It might be jewelry, that is traditional to your village or country, and that you only wear on certain traditional occasions.
I can see your preference for a certain type of jewelry, and I can see whether the jewelry you are wearing is ‘doing something for you’ and making you more beautiful. But I cannot see whether the choice you make in jewelry is making you happy or not. I only know that when I know you better.
FlorenceJewelshop knows the ladies who like her jewelry, what position they have in life, and what personal identity they (roughly) have. Therefore I made a PDF full of tips&tricks to choose the right jewelry that matches your features. If you still have some problems with making the right choice you can contact me ([email protected]). We can get to know each other a bit better and I can and will advise you the best I can.
Don’t hesitate to ask for this PDF. It is free of charge and you just have to let me know where I can send it to.
Hug, Florence from FlorenceJewelshop