The “VOTE” necklace is just the most recent link in a long chain of politically charged statement jewelry that has helped shape history. Traditionally perceived as being decorative, expensive and feminine — even patriarchal — jewelry may seem like an unlikely canvas for expressing dissent. Yet women have long used their jewelry choices as a form of political messaging.
Jewelry has always been political in the broad sense. Historically, engagement and wedding rings symbolized a man’s ownership of his wife. (It was only in the mid-20th century that “double ring” wedding ceremonies became popular in the United States; male engagement rings have yet to catch on.) Before women could own property or open bank accounts, their jewels functioned as de facto life insurance policies, retirement savings and, sometimes, emergency funds in case of divorce.
And jewelry comes preloaded with symbolism, projecting messages that reflect on the wearer. Gold can be