In ancient times, jewelry symbolized a person's status and position in society. Later, jewelry was used as a sign of wealth. Today, jewelry is given as a symbol of love and affection. It's given and worn for important life events, such as engagements, weddings, birthdays and graduations.
There are many kinds of jewelry, including earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces and pendants. We offer the following information to help you select a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone else.
There are 2 categories of earrings: clips for non-pierced ears and posts
or wires for pierced ears. Clip earrings use a hinged clip to hold the earring to the wearer's ear. Post earrings use a clutch
or earring backing to hold the earring. Wires just slip through the ear and sometimes have a hook in back. Post earrings with an ornament or gem on the end are called ear studs.
Rings consist of 2 basic components: the shank, or the part that fits around your finger; and the setting, which holds a gemstone. There are many types of settings. See our setting styles.
Bracelets come in 2 basic types: link bracelets, which are flexible; and bangle
bracelets, which are rigid. Some bangles are hinged to make it easier to put them on and take them off. Bracelets, like rings, are often set with gemstones.
Both are jewelry worn around your neck. The basic difference in the 2 is that a pendant is a removable gem or jewelry accent that hangs from a chain, and a necklace has a gem(s) or accent(s) permanently attached. A necklace that fits properly lies flat around your neck and shoulders.
Chains are worn around the neck as a necklace or around the wrist as a bracelet. Chains are made from precious metals.
Women usually wear at least a 7-inch chain as a bracelet and a chain of at least 16 inches as a necklace. Men usually wear at least an 8-inch chain as a bracelet and a chain of at least 20 inches as a necklace.
Popular types of chains include:
square, interconnecting links
round, interconnected links
oval, curved links that lie flat on the neck
alternating rectangular and circular links
oval links with bars in the middle
strands of metal intertwined to resemble fabric
flat chain with links close together for a smooth look
connecting round or oval rings, usually in a curvaceous, 3-dimensionally contoured manner
spiral-like chain with an appearance of 2 thick strands woven together
a twisted herringbone, resembling a spiraling chain of interlocking elements
cylindrical links form a solid, flexible chain with curved edges
Clasps are used to close bracelets and necklaces and keep them secure around the wrist or neck.
Popular types of clasps include:
Barrel: A square-shaped wire fits into a barrel-shaped tube and locks into place. Sometimes a barrel clasp has a figure-eight safety clasp on the side.
Lobster claw: This clasp resembles a lobster claw. It has a spring inside and hooks through a circle or tube at the opposite end of the chain.
Spring ring: A round clasp that opens with a coil spring.