Is ‘jewellery’ an over-used term?

29 12 2011

Recently I was watching day-time television – one of the perks / tortures of being on holidays – and I half-noticed an advertisement for what I thought was being called ‘thong jewellery’. Now, I wasn’t sure if I got that right (surely not), so to Google I went.

The first site that pops up when searching that particular term is Frostings. Yes: “the highest quality fashion jewellery for simple (and interchangeable!) attachment to your average thong“. [For the international readers, ‘thong’ in Australia is a casual footware and are more often referred to as flip-flops in other countries – phew, we don’t want any confusion here.] So, okay, ‘jewellery’ for footware (kinda cute, I could see my nieces getting into that).

I’ve also noticed (but tried to block it out) ‘glass jewellery’ or ‘wine glass charms’. They’re put around the stem of a wine glass, so you know which one is yours if you put it down.

randomly selected image from internet

Oh dear lord – the indignity of the clanking as you drink!

Do these uses of the word “jewellery” cause you concern? I was getting pretty annoyed with them personally, so thought I’d check dictionaries first… definitions include:

  • Dictionary.com:
    1. articles of gold, silver, precious stones, etc., for personal adornment.
    2. any ornaments for personal adornment, as necklaces or cuff links, including those of base metals, glass, plastic, or the like.
  • Wikipedia:
    a form of personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
    The word jewellery itself is derived from the word jewel, which was anglicized from the Old French “jouel”, and beyond that, to the Latin word “jocale”, meaning plaything.
  • Cambridge Dictionary:
    decorative objects worn on your clothes or body which are usually made from valuable metals, such as gold and silver, and precious stones
  • Merriam-Webster:
    ornamental pieces (as rings and necklaces) worn on the person
  • Macmillan:
    objects that you wear as decoration. Types of jewellery include rings, which you wear on your finger, bracelets, which you wear on your wrist, and necklaces, which you wear around your neck
  • Reverso:
    objects that are worn for personal adornment, such as bracelets, rings, necklaces, etc., considered collectively
  • Illustrated Dictionary of Jewellery, quoted by this site:
    any decorative article, including any jewel, that is made of metal, gemstones or certain organic materials, of high quality and with artistry or superior craftsmanship and intended to be worn or carried on the person for personal adornment or, in the broader sense of the term, used by a person for some purpose closely identified with his convenience or pleasure rather than only for a utilitarian purpose
  • I’m sad that to access the Macquarie and Oxford English Dictionaries one needs to subscribe

So a general consensus that it is personal adornment, on body or clothes (remembering that the English monarchy loved little gems on their clothing) … so does that mean the ‘thong jewellery’ is perfectly fine?

The last definition quoted is interesting as it includes the possibility of carrying the item … though ‘carried on the person’ probably excludes ‘glass jewellery’ right?

Maybe I’m just a snob with the word ‘jewellery’? Maybe I need to relax and enjoy the evolution of the English language as it changes and adapts over time…

Then I thought … jewellery for pets … yes, it’s possible. A few sites caught my eye, with fancy collars and leads and pendants (for the collar, naturally). I can kind of understand decorating these objects, for even the bridles of the celtic warriors were adorned with magnificent work of goldsmiths (though I’m not convinced they called the pieces ‘horse jewellery’). The objects I’ve seen are restricted to cats and dogs …I was going to mention the menagerie of jewellery-lacking pets, and the possibilities of jewellery beyond the mere collar … but I best stop before I get carried away.

Next thing we hear about will be ‘house jewellery’ … no people, that’s called decorating. Plant jewellery? Car jewellery? Surely not…


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