What does the Bible Say about Jewelry?

Throughout history, jewelry has been used to embellish beauty and demonstrate one's wealth and status. The Bible depicts similar uses of jewelry, along with warnings and instructions about its use.

What does the Bible Say about Jewelry
Casket with Jewelry on a white background

The Bible mentions just about every type of jewelry imaginable, including:

  • Bracelets
  • Anklets
  • Earrings
  • Nose Rings
  • Necklaces
  • Brooches

Jewelry was worn almost exclusively by women in the Bible. But its use wasn’t strictly ornamental in all instances. Jewelry also was used as a form of currency in some situations. Because it was made of precious materials and extremely durable, jewelry was a convenient vehicle for storing wealth and for engaging in commerce.

When the Israelites left Egypt, the Lord instructed them to plunder the articles of silver and gold belonging to the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35-36), which allowed the Israelites to begin their life of independence with some wealth and to be able to trade effectively with surrounding nations.

What does the Bible Say about Wearing Jewelry and Makeup?

“Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? ” Jeremiah 2:32a

Gold bars and unshaped chunks of metal can be used easily enough in trade and commerce. But what sets jewelry apart is that it is crafted with care and meant to be displayed.

In the verse above, Jeremiah associates jewelry with a young woman and a bride in a way that reminds the reader of the beautifying effects of jewelry.

He continues his use of this imagery later, adding:

“What are you doing, you devastated one?
Why dress yourself in scarlet
and put on jewels of gold?
Why highlight your eyes with makeup? ” Jeremiah 4:30a

In these verses, Jeremiah’s point is about the people turning from God to idolatry. The jewelry and makeup serve only as an illustration here, but they give us insight into how both were used to accent beauty.

But jewelry and makeup aren’t described only as abstractions in the Bible, as we see in these examples of jewelry and makeup in action:

When Abraham’s servant was sent to find a wife for Isaac, he presented Rebekah with a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.“ (Genesis 24:22)

Even though wedding and engagement rings are relatively modern traditions that were not used in Bible times, Rebekah’s brother recognized the significance of a gift of jewelry as soon as he saw them:

“As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. ” Genesis 24:30

Similarly, when Esther was chosen by the king to be his bride, the king provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.” (Esther 2:9)

In these instances, the jewelry and makeup did not create beauty but were used to honor and accent the beauty that was already perceived.

What does the Bible say about Men Wearing Jewelry?

Because jewelry is meant as a beauty accent, throughout scripture it is worn by women. Men, as laborers and providers, had a different role in society that made wearing jewelry impractical and dangerous.

So, since jewelry was worn by women, it would have been a violation of law for men to adorn themselves in the same manner:

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this. .” Deuteronomy 22:5
What does the Bible Say about Jewelry

What does Jewelry Represent in the Bible?

Where scripture depicts men wearing jewelry, it is for reasons other than adornment. For example, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the lost son returned, the father told his servants “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” (Luke 15:22).

This ring was not simply an embellishment, it was a signet bearing the family seal. The father was restoring the son to his full rights and privileges by giving him a ring that allowed him to conduct business and enter contracts with the full authority of the father.

The signet ring in this story represents a specific function. But in most Biblical depictions, jewelry represents value and/or beauty.

When the Israelites were constructing the Tabernacle, Moses took an offering from the people, and “All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord.” (Exodus 35:22)

And through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord speaks of the value He placed on Israel by proclaiming:

“I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord. ” Ezekiel 16:11-14

In these passages, it is hard to distinguish between beauty and value, because they are so closely interrelated. The beautifying adornments are meant to proclaim and attest to the value of the one wearing them in addition to accenting her inherent beauty.

But Ezekiel continues by revealing what happens when we lose sight of the true source of our value and beauty:

“But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. ” Ezekiel 16:15

Is Wearing Jewelry a Sin in the Bible?

In the passage from Ezekiel, it was God who adorned the Israelites with jewelry.

The bracelets presented to Rebekah, the beauty treatments provided for Esther, and the ring given to the prodigal son are all gifts, bestowed from another, and not something that the wearer made or purchased on their own.

And they are all good gifts with a good purpose.

But when we lose sight of the giver and let pride take hold, wearing jewelry and makeup can become an act of idolatry.

In the opening chapters of Isaiah, the Lord promises to confront Israel’s pride, saying:

“In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings… ” Isaiah 3:18-21

In the New Testament, women are cautioned to use jewelry modestly:

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. ” 1 Timothy 2:9-10
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. ” 1 Peter 3:3-4

Just as relying on our own knowledge, strength, or wealth is a manifestation of pride, so too is reliance on our physical beauty. Plus, if our adornments are intended to inflame lust in others or to flaunt wealth, then we sin not only against God but against the community of believers around us.

That is why the writer of Proverbs cautions that “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22)

Jewelry itself is not a problem, but it can be misused if it draws the attention of the wearer or the observer away from what God desires for us. The Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) and invites us not only to do the same but to put our inner beauty on prominent display through gentleness and good deeds.

Jac F

Jac is a church leader, lay preacher, and writer from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His articles and devotionals appear on multiple Christian blogs and Bible apps. His first book, an Advent devotional, is scheduled to be released in September 2022.

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