I love love love beads, jewelry, and making jewelry. I don't expect everyone to share these feelings of course. But I might be on to something, after all beads have been around a really long time. Scientists are discovering it's even longer than they thought, possibly 100,000 years or more! It's extremely probable that jewelry is even older, a reasonable speculation. After all, beads made out of less hardy materials than shells wouldn't survive the years to be found. It's a minor miracle how many have been found at digs as it is.
Scientists love studying pre-historic beads. It shows how early man fashioned purely symbolic objects, which is what makes man, well, man. Thinking, assigning values to something that has no relationship to the object. It's what we humans do!! It's using things that have no value beyond the meaning we subscribe them.
Art is the purest form of this. Art only means what we think it does. That doesn't make art any less real or important.. but it does make it a very interesting part of us. A necessary part I think.
Sometimes jewelry is not counted as art, and it's because it has intrinsic value beyond a pieces' artistic merits. You can wear it. I think this is a bonus, not a detraction! I have no doubt that beyond some caveman's symbolic notions about shells beads, he also thought them pretty.
I'm not saying all jewelry is art, but some of it is. Jewelry certainly deserves our respect - it's been around a long long time. I think it will be around for a long time to come.