The mention made in the Old Testament of numerous articles of adornment leads to the conclusion that in antiquity self-adornment occupied among both men and women the same place as it does to-day in the Orient. It is probable, however, that only the rich men decorated themselves, whereas even the poorest woman managed to find some adornment; and the rich woman, then, as now in the Orient, was distinguished from the poor one by the number of her ornaments (comp. Isa. iii. 16 et seq.). The following are the general designations for ornaments: (1) "keli," in Isa. lxi. 10, for those of the bride; (2) "'adi," in Ex. xxxiii. 4, for those of a man, and in Jer. ii. 32 for those of a woman; (3) "migdanot," in Gen. xxiv. 53 and II Chron. xxi. 3. As special articles of adornment are mentioned the following: "nezem," both ear- and nose-ring (Prov. xxv. 12; Isa. iii. 21); earrings, on account of their round form, were probably called also "'agil" (Num. xxxi. 50), or "neṭifot" (Isa. iii. 19) because they were shaped like a drop.
The necklace, variously called "ḥali" (Prov. xxv. 12), "ḥelyah" (Hos. ii. 15), "'anaḳ" (Cant. iv. 9), was worn both by women (Ezek. xvi. 11) and by men (Prov. i. 9, iii. 3). It probably did not consist of a mere single gold or silver circlet, but of several chains united (comp. Cant. iv. 9). Smelling-bottles ("batte nefesh"; Isa. iii. 20), and especially ornaments in the form of little moons ("saharonim"; Isa. iii. 18) and suns ("shebisim"), were attached to such chains. "Kumaz" was probably another designation for necklace (Ex. xxxv. 22; Num. xxxi. 50). To judge from the Arabic "kuma'at," it consisted of little gold balls strung together. The seal-ring ("ḥotam") was worn on a string ("petil") round the neck by men, just as by the dwellers in the cities of Arabia to-day (comp. Robinson, "Palästina," i. 98). Afterward the ring was worn on the right hand, according to Jer. xxii. 24 (comp. Gen. xli. 42), and on the arm, according to Cant. viii. 6. Probably there was set in the ring a precious stone, perhaps an onyx ("shoham"), on which a picture or monogram was inscribed (comp. Ex. xxviii. 11). This ring, together with the staff ("maṭṭeh"), doubtless richly decorated, was the chief adornment of the Israelites as of the Babylonians (comp. Herodotus, i. 195; Strabo, 16, 1, 20). Bracelets("ẓamid") are mentioned more frequently (Gen. xxiv. 22, xxx. 47; Ezek. xvi. 11.). It is doubtful in what respect "eẓ'adah" (Num. xxxi. 50; II Sam. i. 10) differs from "ẓamid"; perhaps the latter was worn on the wrist, and the former on the upper arm. The "sherot" (literally "chains") mentioned in Isa. iii. 19 were probably likewise ornaments for the arm (comp. the Arabic "siwar"). Finger-rings ("ṭabba'ot") were worn by women (Isa. iii. 21), but the word designates also the seal-ring (comp. Ex. xxxv. 22; Num. xxxi. 50).
All sorts of ornaments were fastened to women's girdles; e.g., smelling-bottles ("batte nefesh"), bags ("ḥariṭim"), and mirrors ("gilyonim"). Anklets ("'akasim"), fastened above the ankle, were also worn (Isa. iii. 18). They were frequently joined together with chains in order to keep the pace of the wearer even.
The importance of these ornaments for Israelites of all times may be judged from the fact that they were worn as amulets ("leḥashim"; Isa. iii. 20; comp. Gen. xxxv. 4), just as these are worn to-day among the Arabs, to whom "amulet" and "ornament" are identical expressions. It is probable that ornaments were usually of gold or silver, or, among the poorer population, of bronze, after the fashion of the modern poor Egyptian women, who wear brass rings with glass balls. The fact that precious stones were used as ornaments is evidenced in passageslike II Sam. xii. 30; Ex. xxviii. 8 et seq.; Ezek. xxviii. 13 et seq. Such stones as could be engraved were especially valued for rings (comp. Ex. xxxi. 5, xxxv. 33).