Jewellery in Gender and Identity Politics
Jewellery has been a form of adornment for centuries, and throughout history, it has played a significant role in gender and identity politics. It has been an indicator of social status, cultural affiliation and heritage, religious beliefs, and personal style. More recently, jewellery has also become an important tool for expressing gender and identity and serves a visual representation of one’s views and values.
Traditionally…Jewellery has long been associated with personal identity and self-expression. The type of jewelry a person wears can say a lot about who they are and what they value. Further, gender roles have played a significant role in determining the type of jewellery worn by men and women. In many cultures, men wore heavier, more elaborate, and expensive jewelry than women as a symbol of their wealth and power. Women, on the other hand, were expected to wear jewelry that was more delicate and ornate, often reflecting their femininity and domestic role.
In recent years, the boundaries between gendered jewellery have blurred, and many people now wear jewellery that challenges traditional gender norms. As gender roles have evolved, jewellery has become more gender-neutral. Today, both men and women wear jewellery to express their personal style, beliefs, and values; jewellery has become a means of self-expression and an integral part of a person’s identity.
The connection between jewellery, gender, and identity has gained prominence in recent years.
The rise in gender-neutral jewelry can be attributed to the changing attitudes towards gender roles and the increasing visibility of the LGBTQ+ community. No longer are minimalist designs defined by clean lines the socially accepted jewellery for men. Nor are delicate or ornate designs and beautiful gem-set pieces considered feminine and meant only for women.
Jewellery has become an important tool for individuals to express their gender identity and break free from traditional gender norms. For example, a person who identifies as non-binary may choose to wear a necklace with a gender-neutral symbol or a bracelet with the yellow, white, purple, and black colours of the non-binary flag. Such jewellery is a way to affirm one’s gender identity and own the right to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Men and women who do not want to conform to traditional gender roles favour gender-neutral jewellery.
By breaking free from traditional gender norms, they can express their individuality and personal style.
Non-binary people may choose to wear jewellery that is neither traditionally masculine nor feminine. This allows them to express their gender identity without conforming to societal expectations. Jewellery with feminist slogans or symbols has been used to show support for gender equality. Jewellery can also serve as a means of empowerment for individuals who have been marginalized because of their gender identity. For example, the rainbow flag has become a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride, and wearing a rainbow bracelet or necklace can be a way to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and stand up against discrimination.
By being used to express individuality and creativity, jewellery can also play a role in challenging gender norms and stereotypes. For example, you may choose to wear unconventional or gender-neutral jewellery as a way to break free from traditional gender roles and express yourself in a way that is true to yourself.
Adornment has been used to signify gender and identity in various ways. In some societies, gender roles are strongly associated with certain types of jewellery.
In many cultures, however, jewellery has been used to express cultural identity and challenge traditional gender roles and express non-binary or fluid gender identities. For example, a person may choose to wear a piece of jewelry that reflects their cultural heritage, such as a necklace with a traditional African symbol or earrings with a Native American design. Some Native American cultures have a long tradition of male warriors wearing jewellery such as necklaces and earrings to symbolize their bravery and status. By wearing jewelry that reflects their cultural identity, they can feel a sense of pride and connection to their community.
A person may wear a piece of jewellery that has been passed down through generations of their family, signifying their connection to their cultural heritage. Alternatively, a person may choose to wear jewelry that reflects their personal style, such as bold and colourful statement pieces, or minimalist and simple designs.
Religious identityJewellery can also be used to express religious beliefs. A person may wear a cross on a chain to show their Christian identity or a Star of David necklace to show their Jewish faith. By wearing jewelry that reflects their religious beliefs, they feel a sense of connection to their community and faith and express their beliefs to others and serves as a way to connect with others who share similar values and identities. My knowledge of diamonds is thanks to Surubhai. We had a cutting and polishing unit on the premises in those days. I spent time watching the work there. Even then, I wore thick spectacles, so Surubhai told me to watch closely but not try my hand with the diamonds and the machines.
In IndiaIndia is famous for its jewellery—in fact, a glance at the jewellery a person is wearing can tell you she is of Indian nationality, or at least, that the piece of jewellery was made in India. India is the largest repository of privately held gold in the world and even people of limited means hanker to own and wear jewellery made of precious metals. In earlier days, gold jewellery was worn by royalty and the wealthy as a testimony to their “elite” status. As time went by and the passing of enabling legislation to break down the caste system, jewellery made of gold and silver began to be worn by more people regardless of their position in society.
In earlier days, gold jewellery was worn by royalty and the wealthy as a testimony to their “elite” status. As time went by and the passing of enabling legislation to break down the caste system, jewellery made of gold and silver began to be worn by more people regardless of their position in society.
Wedding bands immediately identify the wearer as married. In many communities across the country, women wear a mangalsutra made entirely of gold or silver, or a necklace strung with black beads, or one comprising a slim gold chain or tumeric-infused rope hung with a central gold pendant. At a glance, these would immediately identify her as a married woman. Toe rings made of silver and gold were originally symbols of marriage, but have, today, become fashion accessories worn by anyone who likes them.
To sign off…
Jewellery has always been a means of expressing one’s identity, and its connection to gender identity has become increasingly important in recent years. Gender-neutral jewellery has become a means of expressing gender identity and breaking free from traditional gender norms. Jewellery can also be used to express cultural and religious identity, and as a means of empowerment for marginalized communities. By choosing to wear certain pieces of jewellery, individuals can express their personal style, beliefs, and values, and create a sense of connection to their community.
As society becomes more accepting and inclusive, jewellery continues to evolve and challenge traditional gender and identity norms. As jewellers, we have our fingers on the fashion and cultural pulse and have adapted to the trends and tastes of millennials and Gen Z. Visit us; whether you lean towards simple minimalist designs or ornate, handcrafted and gem-set jewellery, you are sure to find something that catches your eye in our collections. If not, we will be happy to customise a piece to suit your requirements.