March is for Women
Women and Jewelry Through the Ages
After months of hibernation, March brings rebirth, renewal and awakening to the Northern Hemisphere. Keeping in sync with the symbolism of Spring, March 8th is celebrated around the world as International Women’s Day, a time of reflection and commemoration of the contributions made by women today and throughout history. It is a time to justly give prominent female figures their spotlight.
Since the 1980s the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have declared the entire month of March as Women’s Month, because how can you fit all the gratitude towards women in just one day? The fight for equal rights is not over, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals placed Equal Rights in 5th place, but what we can tell for sure is that jewelry will continue to play a role in women’s movements.
Join us in celebrating Women’s History Month with a story of women and jewelry throughout the ages.
Women and Jewelry
Jewels have been a part of humankind before time immemorial, from feathers, bones and shells worn by our ancestors to gold, silver, gemstones and diamonds mostly used today, jewelry has always been a form of self-expression. Either worn as trophies, amulets to protect against evil, a reflection of style and personality, or just to denote wealth and power, jewelry can give us insights into the past and present.
What type of jewelry did women wear specifically? In the Ancient World, Egyptian women preferred gold and gems, Greek women mostly wore beads and shells, while the Romans went for pendants with perfume. After a brief period in the Middle Ages when many European women were forbidden to wear jewelry by the Europe’s Sumptuary Laws, the Elizabethan era brought an array of jewelry styles and uses, like the embroidered stomachers.
Victorian women on the other hand rebelled against low fine jewelry standards and mostly used ornaments for Mourning Jewelry. Once mass production of jewelry took off, Art Nouveau style was all the rage, with dainty flowers, birds and animals featured in most designs.
The mid-20th century ushered radical changes to the jewelry industry and especially after WWII when we saw jewelry departing from the traditional values of the past – driven mostly by the social changes and advancements in Women’s Rights around the world. As women became more independent and began to buy their own jewelry, traditionally given to them by men, the diversity of styles and designs exploded.
Greenlandic Jewelry Traditions
Traditionally, the jewelry on the island of Greenland featured stones or small vertebrae from fish in the olden days and were worn to ward off evil spirits and to indicate family status and wealth. When the Europeans came along the Greenlanders got hold of pearls from glass and used them in the same way until the 19th century when they became abundant, giving birth to the elaborate pearl necklace/collar seen on the traditional costume of Greenland today.
They usually weigh up to 4 pounds and are a source of great pride, because of the enormous effort (usually years) it takes to make them. Today, young women in Greenland wear the necklace as a fashion statement outside of the traditional costume.
How women’s liberation movements shaped the jewelry industry
It is not an exaggeration to say that though the jewelry industry is still mostly dominated by men in C-Suite positions, women shaped the industry as it is today. Financial independence and women’s suffrage made the jewelry industry reimagine itself and adapt to the times.
With the expansion of rights and financial freedom for women around the world, throughout the 20th century the jewelry industry has transformed and expanded. As the 21st century rolled in and gender norms became more fluid across cultures, the concept of feminine and masculine is intertwined but jewelry will always reflect the dynamics of the times they are created.
Jewelry is all about self-expression and identity!
Notable women in the Jewelry Industry
We can’t possibly mention all the incredible women who have (and still do) contribute to the jewelry industry, but we’d like to highlight a few, such as Bai Jingyi – master in imperial filigree, Farah Khan Ali – designer for royalty as well as celebrities, Paloma Picasso – with her Tiffany & Co signature designs, Sheryl Jones – designer of timely personal heirlooms, Elsa Peretti – designer for Tiffany & Co, Lorraine Schwartz – designer of custom jewelry, and Carolina Bucci – innovative 4th generation Italian jeweler.
Greenland Ruby is lucky to have collaborated with a number of talented and creative jewelry designers who have embraced our gems and let their creativity flow! They have incorporated our gems into their collections, bringing our responsibly sourced rubies and pink sapphires to a new dimension with their divine designs. Their clients, the jewelry wearing elite and collectors of exotic jewels, delight in being the owners of something so extraordinary and so recently discovered.
Women at Greenland Ruby
We couldn’t close this chapter without giving thanks to the wonderful women who work together to bring our Responsibly Sourced Rubies and Pink Sapphires to the market. More than a third of the Greenlandic people working at our Aappaluttoq mine are women, braving the elements every day to carefully source and process the prime gem material. Our gems are cut and polished in Thailand, where our studious team of women sorters take care that each and every gemstone is ready to be set in your jewelry.
A big shout-out to our Sales Team in Paris – Aricie de Sainte Preuve and Emilie Come, as well as the brilliant CCO Hayley Henning in New York, and MOI, Andreea Predescu. If we don’t already know one another, let’s meet! Contact us at email@example.com.