We all know the feeling of spelling a word and being slightly in doubt as to whether our spelling is correct or not. In the case of ‘jewellery’ or ‘jewelry’, you are certainly forgiven if you have ever been slightly confused! It is tricky and depends on where you are in the world.
Of course, we know how to spell jewellery. After all, we’re a Jeweller.
What Does ‘Jewellery’ Mean?
‘Jewellery’ is a noun that refers to items of personal adornment, such as necklaces, bracelets and rings.
We could use it in a sentence like this:
Sofia Loren wore a lot of jewellery.
It comes from the word ‘jewel’, which refers to a precious stone (e.g. a diamond or ruby). However, we also use ‘jewellery’ for items that don’t feature any jewels (e.g. a wooden pendant or a gold ring).
Australian and American English agree on the spelling of ‘jewel’. But with ‘jewellery’ – and a range of words derived from ‘jewel’ – there is a transatlantic spelling difference.
With all these words, we see how US English simplifies spellings. In most of these cases, Americans simply drop the extra ‘l’ from the Australian spelling. But with ‘jewellery’, we have an extra ‘e’, too!
Generally, the only time you will need to use ‘jewelry’ is when writing for a North American audience.
The spelling difference extends to jeweler (American English) and jeweller (British and Australian English), as well as to other derivatives such as jeweled–jewelled and jeweling—jewelling. But jewel (not jewell) is the standard spelling in all varieties of English.
The simpler, American spelling of the word is part of the legacy of Noah Webster, the early-19th-century educator and lexicographer, best known for his 1831 dictionary, whose attempts to reform the language met with varying degrees of success. He didn’t originate the jewelry spelling, but he was instrumental in making it a part of the American language.
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