According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, the custom of women wearing jewelry has its roots in spiritual symbolism. In other words, the wearing of jewelry was more than a means to enhance one’s physical appearance and attractiveness, it symbolized the inner beauty of a woman’s heart.
Swedenborg also maintained that this spiritual symbolism is contained within the literal meanings of biblical verses, such as:
I decked thee with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain upon thy throat; and I put a jewel upon thy nose. (Ezekiel, 11, 12)
Wearing a jewel on the nose represented spiritual goodness because the nose brings life through respiration and detects fragrance (pleasantness). Therefore a jewel on the nose symbolizes the special quality of a woman’s life and love.
Wearing an earring symbolizes the goodness of love put into action. The ear and its ability to hear, symbolizes listening, that is, obedience to God’s spiritual truths and acting according to divine tenets.
Of course, in today’s society, many people bypass this deeper heavenly meaning and simply ornament themselves and get “decked-out” in spite of their true inner qualities. Few men wearing big diamond earrings strike me as being of a particularly spiritual bent. And women usually prefer that their bling comes from an admirer rather than having to buy it for themselves.
So jewelry can sometimes symbolize something opposite to spiritual love—like love of self and the promoting of one’s self-importance.
In fact, body jewelry can symbolize quite opposite qualities no matter which body part is decorated. For instance, jewelry on the genitals would have represented the goodness of the love for children in former times. But now this custom is most often used to enhance lust and titillation of sacred body parts.
The spiritual symbolism behind the custom of men giving jewelry to women is that it is for men to discern and recognize the inner beauty of a woman’s heart. This serves as a validation of a woman’s inner spiritual quality and a man’s judgment in seeking a suitable bride and eternal heavenly partner.
To explore this symbolism further, the marriage of a man and a woman is an effigy of the union between the human heart and mind, and deeper still, effigies the combining of God’s spiritual truth with spiritual love—which represents the underlying creative process in the universe. That is why the marriage between a man and a woman can create children—it has its origins in the prolific principle of heavenly ideals.