Jewellery, precious or fancy, speaks of us as visible signs of belonging to a religious, ethnic, professional, political or sexual group. Messengers of love, symbols of seduction or submission, objects of superstition… They say in their own way our social identity, if we’re married, if we inherited, if we have a child— But beyond the conscious messages they deliver, jewellery is part of our history and can reveal our unconscious personality. Discreet or ostentatious, they express our tastes and our relationship to femininity, testify to our family or love history. Deciphering a complex, meaningful relationship.
Jewellery does not lie,” says Catherine, a lifelong and now creative enthusiast, while brandishing a forceful bracelet she designed from a silver timpani she received in her childhood. Since women have moved from the status of “those who receive” to the more complex status of “those who offer and purchase a piece of jewellery”, the latter symbolizes what we choose to show ourselves, its degree of emancipation or, quite simply, the mood of the moment.
Freedom from social codes has freed up the jewel as much as the one who wears them. The alliance is no longer reserved for married people, the pearl necklace is no longer the prerogative of the bourgeois, the baptismal medal no longer necessarily says baptism.
A few years ago, an American advertising campaign – “Right hand ring” – even encouraged women to wear “a diamond in their right hand” as a sign of emotional and financial independence. To break a look that she finds too classic and agreed, Laurence chose to wear her gems with jeans and sneakers: «It’s more rock’n’roll, closer to my personality.»
“We are no longer addicted, but confident about who we are,” says a psychoanalyst. Our personality is multiple, and the jewel expresses its different facets, as soon as one is in agreement with oneself. Isabelle, who hates anything ostentatious, never wears gold: “It symbolizes a wealth that I don’t want to display.” She prefers the silver click of a Berber necklace, which better corresponds to what it is and which allows her to rediscover every day a breath of freedom from elsewhere.
Jewellery is not just about identity. Earrings will illuminate a face, brooch or necklace will enhance a neckline, bracelet or shiny ring will induce sensual gestures. “These adornments are designed to enhance femininity, highlight the body, enhance the skin,” says Catherine.
In some families, giving a girl a string of pearls for her 18th birthday is a ritual of passage that means she is a woman. “Whether she likes it or not, when a woman receives a jewel, it is always her femininity that is implicitly valued,” notes psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Vannina Micheli-Rechtman.