What does the Bible say about wearing jewelry? What does the Bible permit and what does it discourage in regards to our personal appearance or adornment?
Does the Bible permit the wearing of jewelry? The answer is yes, as long as it is not taken to an extreme.
So, is it a sin to wear jewelry? No, with the same caution about not putting the wrong priority on outward appearance over inner beauty.
Jewelry in the Bible
We clearly see that God allows jewelry in Ezekiel chapter 16, which is an allegory of God’s dealings with the nation of ancient Israel. This chapter figuratively describes how God picked up a newborn female baby, abandoned to die on the street. He cleaned her up, fed her and provided for her.
In this charming allegory, we see that God provided beautiful jewelry for her: “I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver” (verses 11-13).
Later in the allegory, God marries the woman who symbolizes Israel. If God did this for His bride, it cannot be sin.
A Bible study on jewelry reveals many other positive examples of jewelry throughout the Bible, as well as neutral and bad examples.
Other positive examples of jewelry in the Bible include Genesis 24:53, Proverbs 25:12, Isaiah 61:10, Luke 15:22 and Revelation 21:2.
Examples of jewelry being used by people with bad motives include Jeremiah 4:30, Hosea 2:13 and Revelation 17:4.
What does adornment mean?
Questions about jewelry come up because of statements in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4 that talk about how Christian women should “adorn” themselves, and what is proper “adornment.”
Adorn means “to enhance the appearance of, especially with beautiful objects” (Merriam-Webster.com). Adornment “is the process of making something more beautiful by adding something to it” (CollinsDictionary.com).
As used in the New King James Version, adornment refers to what we focus on to make ourselves beautiful. Other translations use “your beauty” instead of “your adornment.” These include the New International Version, Christian Standard Bible, International Standard Version and World English Bible.
What did Paul mean about jewelry in 1 Timothy 2?
Paul here expresses general guidelines for female dress, and instructs that the wrong kind of ostentation is to be avoided by Christian women. He is not prohibiting expensive clothing or beautiful arrangement of the hair in principle, but excessive concern about appearance at the expense of more important things, such as godliness and good works.We should not misread the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, where he instructs that “the women [should] adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”
Paul here expresses general guidelines for female dress, and instructs that the wrong kind of ostentation is to be avoided by Christian women. He is not prohibiting expensive clothing or beautiful arrangement of the hair in principle, but excessive concern about appearance at the expense of more important things, such as godliness and good works.
Importance of inner beauty in 1 Peter 3
Similar counsel is given by the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
Note again that Peter is writing about priorities; the point is not that a woman must not beautify herself with good clothes, jewelry or beautiful hair. The teaching is that the inner person is more important than the outer and should therefore be given greater effort and emphasis.
For more about this inner beauty, see “Seven Qualities That Make a Woman Truly Beautiful.”
Both men and women honor God by dressing and grooming themselves in a way that is attractive and modest. Appropriate wearing of jewelry that is not overly ostentatious is not prohibited in the Scriptures. However, we must always keep in mind that the inner person is more important than the outward appearance.