Jewelry or Jewellery

Finally, Is It Jewelry or Jewellery?

Once And For All, Is It Jewelry or Jewellery?

To those of us in the United States, and who rely on the correct American spelling of the word jewelry, it is so official that any other spelling appears to be wrong, a simple typo we easily dismiss or gloss over. For those of us primarily in the United Kingdom, only the preferred European spelling of the familiar word is the correct one, and should always be jewellery.

Some of us may find it surprising to discover that there is no difference between the two word’s meaning (or verbal pronunciation). Although the European and American English spellings make the terms visually dissimilar, if we look deeper, we soon discover that the journey leading to each word is as distinct as the millions of us who read and write them.

The Renaissance of Jewelry/Jewellery

The late 14th century was the last portion of the medieval period. Most noted during this time in history was the Black Death, know as the bubonic plague, which caused the death of more than half of Europe’s population. Amazingly, it took over two hundred years before society returned to its pre-pandemic numbers.  

Jewelry Renaissance
European Renaissance (rebirth)

Following this period came the Renaissance, literally meaning rebirth. It was the emergence of incredible creativity and the growth of culture, including painting, sculpture, and decorative arts that expanded across Europe with its new artistic sensibilities. 

Arguably, it was one of the most important periods in the innovation of jewelry design. The designers of the era took inspiration from the 16th century Greek artifacts to create stunning pieces of jewelry. The designs incorporated religion and Greek mythology into the intricate craftwork. Shimmering pearls, precious metals, and radiant gemstones took a prominent place in the crafting of necklaces and rings. True then, as it is now, we continue into our modern age, establishing our jewelry — or jewellery — as treasured adornments, symbolically enhancing our wealth, influence, and beauty.

Royal Jewelry or Jewellery
“Am I wearing Jewelry, or Jewellery?”

Great craftsmanship was as applauded as the jewelry produced by the craft workers themselves, recognized for their mastery of the techniques and great skill used to create the coveted pieces. 

Renaissance Jewelry Maker
Petrus Christus, The Goldsmith, 1449, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Consequently, the word juelrye, from the old French origin, juelerye, meaning “precious ornaments” captured the essence of the time, perfectly reflecting the period and the beautiful creations it gave birth to.

This stands on a foundation established even earlier, expressed in the 13th century origin via the recognizable term “jewel,” representing the Anglo-French word described as an “article of value used for adornment.”

But What About That Double ‘L’?

European Jewellery Spelling

The English translation, meaning Jeweler, taken from the French word joaillier, with its double ‘L’ spelling, illustrates the Latin and French influence on European Language. 

The double ‘L’ found in many words shows that the deep-rooted history of British English is at play in the word. In fact, the English rules of grammar inform us that a vowel must follow a double letter. This is the reason for the United Kingdom’s requirement that places an ‘E’ following the two ‘L’ Letters in the word jewellery.

We know that Iconic American lexicographer Noah Webster, famous for his work as a writer and editor of the Webster’s Dictionary, most certainly did not create the English spelling appearing in his famed 19th century publication. We can; however, credit him with making the jewelry spelling an established term so thoroughly integrated into the lives of American jewelry designers and shoppers alike.

People within the United States, Japan, and Korea rely on the preferred spelling of the Americanized version of “jewelry.” For the UK, Australia, India, Norway, and South Africa, the British English “jewellery,” term is the version of choice, with Canada honoring its French and Anglo affiliations by using both versions interchangeably.

So, at last, this ultimate word on “jewelry or jewellery” answers the question:

Which is correct jewelry or jewellery?

Jewelry or Jewellery

While both are correct, and relate to the evolution of the culture using the word, jewelry is primarily used as a standard of choice by North America English speakers in the US, while jewellery is the popular version used in the UK, Australia, India, and European-centric language populations.

Here are some beautiful examples of handcrafted jewelry (or jewellery, if you prefer)

Jewelry or Jewellery FAQs

What is Costume Jewelry (or Jewellery)? Styles

Fashion Jewelry, also known as costume jewelry, is usually made with base metals and simulated stones.

What is Fine Jewelry (or Jewellery)?

Vanguard Pearl Necklace

The definition of fine jewelry comes down to the materials that the jewelry is made with. While jewelry designated as “fine” comprises precious gemstones, fashion jewelry commonly comprises more accessible, and often fabricated stones.

What is Semi-Fine Jewelry (or Jewellery)?

Autumn Gold Necklace -

Some jewelry enthusiasts will claim that there is a middle category between “very fine” and “fine” that is called “semi­-fine” and is characterized by jewelry that is made with gold vermeil or is gold-filled (or both).

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