A World Of Intriguing Facts
The world of jewelry is filled with many fascinating facts that may not be familiar to most people. Below is a collection of these facts.
Jewelry was probably worn by even the very first humans on Earth, well before history was recorded. Archeologists in recent years have uncovered artifacts in various parts of the globe that appear to be beads once worn as jewelry. A number of testing methods show that the jewelry is probably at least 100,000 years old.
Jewelry is the common spelling only in American English. In other English-speaking countries, the word is spelled jewellery. English experts have yet to reach a consensus about what accounts for the different spelling but dictionaries – and word processor spell check programs – differ on the word depending upon the country.
The ultimate roots of the word jewelry is in Latin, language experts say. Jewelry is derived from the word jocale which meant “plaything” to Latin speakers in the 13th century and, probably, well before. It seems likely, then, that jewelry has for much of its recent history at least, been a “feel good” item, worn as much to enhance the wearer’s self-image as to signify status (which it certainly does).
Jewelry has been made over the years from a huge variety of substances, both natural and man-made. Early jewelry was made of wood or piece of rock or bones, and those materials still result in jewelry today all across the world. But in more recent times, jewelry has been formed from metals of all types. The term “costume-jewelry” applies to jewelry that is made of the least valuable types of metals.
Gold jewelry is today considered to be among the most valuable of all jewelry. But its value depends largely upon the purity of the gold, measured in karats. 24 karat gold is solid, and all other measures of gold are based on that. 18-karat gold, for example, is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals. One of the most common types of gold sold for jewelry today is 14 karat gold (14 parts gold and 10 parts other medals), the least pure gold available in the United States is 10 karat gold.
A popular, inexpensive type of gold used in jewelry is called gold vermeil. (This word is is, according to most dictionaries, pronounced ver-MAY. That may come as a surprise however to many Americans who are accustomed to pronouncing the word to rhyme with the name of the sports announcer Dick Vermeil.) Jewelry made of gold vermeil can appear to be solid gold at first glance, but the gold vermeil is actually a thin layer of 10 karat gold covering a sterling silver base. Gold vermeil, with its solid gold look, has been a modern technological marvel in the jewelry industry because it gives everyone affordable access to very expensive looking jewelry. These are just some of the many facts that jewelry-lovers are sure to find intriguing.