Jewellery has been used for a number of reasons:
- Currency, wealth display and storage,
- Functional use (such as clasps, pins and buckles)
- Symbolism (to show membership or status or religious affiliation)
- Protection (in the form of amulets and magical wards).
- Artistic display
Most cultures have at some point had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewellery. Numerous cultures move wedding dowries in the form of jewellery or create jewellery as a means to store or display coins. Alternatively, jewellery has been used as a currency or trade good; an example being the use of slave beads.
Many items of jewellery, such as brooches and buckles, originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.