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Enchanted jewelry is a major mainstay of basically any genre of fiction involving magic. It comes in many forms, but the concept is the same: wear it, and it gives you certain powers or protects you in some way.

Which got me wondering: there are lots of varieties of jewelry. Rings, bracelets, necklaces, crowns, tiaras, piercings of every conceivable shape, size and location... there are a plethora of forms that enchanted jewelry could take. But they aren't remotely created equal when it comes to how convenient it would be to wear them and keep them on in a combat situation. Assuming that the size and shape of the specific piece of jewelry isn't pivotal to holding that specific enchantment, most of us would rather, say, go into a fight wearing a +5 magic ring... than a +5 magic 5-inch radius nose ring.

If we define jewelry as a combination of a gemstone and a piece of metal that is worn in such a way that it makes physical contact with the body, what form would enchanted jewelry take if it were designed from the ground up to be practical in a combat situation? The way I see it, we're looking for a good mix of three things here:

1: Low inconvenience to the wearer while worn

2: Low risk of falling off in intense situations

3: Ease of switching out for other enchanted items as the situation might demand (so nothing surgically implanted completely inside the body, for example)

With these things in mind, what would be the most pragmatic design and location for enchanted jewelry?

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    $\begingroup$ Is it still jewelry if its primary purpose is no longer to be worn for adornment? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Oct 25 '21 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ Magical jewellery exists in real life; it is called a signet ring. People have been wearing such magical rings, with the power to transform any ordinary writing into a binding contract or an authoritative order, for thousands of years. Why would you mess with thousands of years of history? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 25 '21 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Sorry I thought comments were the place to request clarification or suggest improvements. If OP is content with their definitions they can ignore them. If not they can modify their post appropriately. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Oct 25 '21 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ Could I make a quiet vote here for the humble nipple ring? Just as versatile as the earring, but much less exposed to thievery. Can normally be equipped without anyone being the wiser, and need not be as visually appealing, as anyone seeing them tends to be....distracted, for some reason. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Oct 25 '21 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a need to swap jewellery pieces during the combat? What kind of enchantments do you have in mind? It might be possible to use the suggested nipple ring for some passive protective enchantment, but I doubt it would be a good fit for fireball-like enchantments. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Oct 26 '21 at 4:41

17 Answers 17

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Dermal Piercings

enter image description here

The classic dermal piercing consists of two parts, a fixed anchor that is inserted beneath the skin, and a replaceable top that holds the decorative part (and any gems).

                         enter image description here

Unique Advantages

  • Sizing isn't an issue. An army can standardize the size of the base, and any topper will be guaranteed to fit. In fact, an entire nation could standardize. I think this is the biggest selling point. Interchangeability is huge. Imagine if we had to make a different gun for every soldier!
  • Impossible to steal unnoticed. The base can't be removed without a scalpel, and the top needs to be unscrewed while applying considerable pressure to the surrounding skin. They can be torn out, but even that's hard to do, because they're small enough that getting a quick grip on them is very hard.
  • Unlimited quantity. You can have as many as you have skin to fit them in.
  • Flexibility of display. They can be concealed or shown off, as need be: visible ones on collarbones, necks, and wrists, hidden ones along the sternum, or beneath the ribs. Hide your dangerous ones and show off your innocuous ones to look non-threatening. Swap them around to encourage people not to fuck with you.
  • Logistically convenient. They take less material to produce than almost any other option. They're easy to store and transport. A box of a thousand toppers and anchors would weight barely a kilo and a half, and use about as much raw material. They're fast and easy to produce, and can be produced using assembly lines.

Fulfilling Criteria

1: Low inconvenience to the wearer while worn

They're functionally weightless, can be worn under clothing, under armor, and in the nude, and don't interfere with movement. It hurts a bit to bump them hard against something, but that's a minor and occasional discomfort, with careful placement.

2: Low risk of falling off in intense situations

They literally can't. Dermals may reject over time, and can be torn out, but will never fall out without warning on their own.

3: Ease of switching out for other enchanted items as the situation might demand (so nothing surgically implanted completely inside the body, for example)

Couldn't be easier. Unscrew one topper, put on another. Takes as much time as twisting a bezel on a watch. If you have dozens, it might take longer, but per unit, they are faster than rings, necklaces, gauntlets, or standard piercings.

Advantages over other options:

  • Rings take time to take on and off, interfere with any kind of manual labor or combat, get caught on gloves, can get stuck, cannot be exchanged between users, and may stop fitting over time. They are always visible.
  • Bracelets and cuffs take up space. Loose ones will dangle and catch, tight ones will chafe. Sizing is, again, an issue.
  • Necklaces tangle, catch, and twist. The chains are either heavy, or fragile. They can be easily grabbed and torn off (or worse, used to choke you).
  • Standard piercings have more limited areas (there's only so many places to slip a piercing through) take longer to swap, and are less universal (an earring, a prince albert, a nipple piercing, and an industrial piercing are all non-mutually exchangeable)
  • Chainmail isn't appropriate for every occasion, is heavy, expensive, and cumbersome, lacks flexibility1, takes time to take on and off, is hard to store in bulk, and is essential but time-consuming to fit to size.

Disadvantages

  • Infection/rejection. If you don't have healing magic or an understanding of germ theory in your world, don't even bother
  • Up-front installation. While dermals take vastly less time to produce than any other option, a user would need to have anchors installed ahead of time. Most piercers recommend only getting 3-4 piercing at a time, at most.
  • Squeamishness. This is entirely a cultural thing, and you could handwave it, but some people might be uncomfortable with piercings.

At asker's request, I'm adding a collage of a few recommended locations.

enter image description here

Places to avoid: Hands, fingers, legs.


  1. Yes, you can move in it, I've done an obstacle course in it, it's still a pain and far less flexible than ordinary clothing.
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    $\begingroup$ Wow, this is a REALLY good one. I noticed you said "with careful placement". What sorts of places on the body would you recommend installing them? $\endgroup$ Oct 26 '21 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ @CyrusDrake I've added a collage of potential placements. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Oct 26 '21 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks a ton, now it's an even more excellent answer. $\endgroup$ Oct 26 '21 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ This is the best answer if removability is not a concern - i would advocate for placement inside the hollow of the belly button - i think of all the outer skin on the body, this is least likely to be overstretched, armor will naturally be very good around the belly area, and there are no bones, or muscle-bone combinations below that could be an issue when hit bluntly. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Oct 27 '21 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ @CyrusDrake They don’t actually have to have it be screws! If you don’t have access to magic that can make them, or a screw cutting lathe (c. 1770 CE) there are lots of alternatives. Retaining pins made with drawn wire (c. 2000 BCE) or flat wire that is coiled into retaining rings would be my best bet, but a press-fit joint could also be viable, esp with soft metals that can deform. A spiral cam, like in IKEA furniture, would also likely work (and have no third piece to lose) $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Oct 27 '21 at 18:45
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Necklace

Let's look at modern soldiers. Rings typically must be taped over to reduce the risk of getting caught on protrusions, bracelets and earrings are a complete no-no for the same reason (except small studs), yet the one thing that most Western soldiers are required to wear on the battlefield are dog tags. These are worn on a breakaway chain around the neck, so that if something goes horribly wrong and the chain gets caught on something then the chain will break in preference to the neck breaking or strangulation occurring.

While in combat the dogtags are under both clothing and body armour, preventing the chain from catching on anything and making it effectively impossible to remove them unless the wearer is either cooperating or incapacitated. When not in combat the dogtags can still be worn at all times if necessary, even while bathing if necessary, as the chain is loose enough that it can be moved to wash the skin of the neck and chest. This means that while it may be more comfortable to remove the dog tags / magic necklace, if the protection provided is essential then it can be worn without ever removing it. (I really like the idea of Rubrikon's jewelled gauntlet, but I can't see anyone being able to wash their hair while wearing it.)

In summary - if a breakaway chain around the neck works for modern soldiers with dogtags, it should work just as well as magic jewelery.

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  • $\begingroup$ And the necklace proved to be suboptimal so my dad obtained a third dog tag that goes in a boot. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    Oct 26 '21 at 2:59
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There is likely nothing better than your classic ring

Rings have been worn since ancient Egypt, and thus we have plenty of experience making comfortable rings that won't fall off easily. If well fitted, they can be easily worn/removed in a single movement. Even limiting yourself to one ring per finger, you can wear ten that can be easily swapped out if you have two free hands, and can be done with a bit of difficulty with one hand otherwise holding something.

But, as the image below shows, you can wear multiple rings per finger, although this might turn into a weird Tower of Hanoi game if you need to swap the ring closest to your hand.

A hand wearing three thin rings on the 4th finger.

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    $\begingroup$ Closest I've gotten to deforming a ring was one I accidentally stepped on, when it was on its side. I suspect you'd have problems around Required Secondary Powers before any magic strength boosts can properly threaten a ring you're wearing. I've also worn rings under various fabric gloves, so it wouldn't be far fetched to have gauntlets over leather mittens, just like having an aketon/gambeson under plate/maille. $\endgroup$
    – Kyyshak
    Oct 26 '21 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ Depending on how magic works, one could conceivably put a ring on a chain and call it a necklace or bracelet. Your magical smiths only need to learn one style of jewelry to cover all their bases. $\endgroup$
    – codeMonkey
    Oct 26 '21 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ Imagine if different rings gave different powers based on the finger they were placed on. This would be interesting in situations where you had to 'Tower of Hanoi' a ring off. $\endgroup$
    – sam_smith
    Oct 26 '21 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ @gustafc You don't tend to deform the ring when something goes wrong lifting etc... the ring deforms you, it's called degloving and I've seen it happen. I know better than to wear rings when doing anything active and that fact literally saved two fingers last week. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Oct 28 '21 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ You don't want to be wearing rings while doing anything where there is a risk of catching one on something, that includes wearing thick gloves or gauntlets. The injury that tends to occur is called degloving and I've seen it happen and the wiki article does it no justice at all. Rings are great for the sedentary wizard who likes to show off without using too much of his own power but as magical enhancements for a warrior steer well clear. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Oct 28 '21 at 8:28
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Huh; the story I'm writing had to address (almost) this exact question. So I'm going to adapt the answer I used, and suggest...

"Pandora" bracelets

You want convenience; something that is easy to put on or take off. You want it to not get in the way too much. You want something small, that makes it easy to wear several spells; this is where you get "beads". The bracelet itself may or may not have its own enchantment; "don't fall off in combat" would be a good candidate! ("Don't let me be removed without my wearer's permission" is another good one.)

Each individual spell item is a small bauble that can be securely attached to the bracelet. The bracelet itself can easily be snug enough that it can't fall off accidentally (handcuffs are a thing, after all).

You probably want the bracelet itself to be durable. Ideally, you'd use an all metal band with something like a watch closure, but that requires a certain level of manufacturing ability. In a pinch, you could use a strung leather cord tied to the wrist or ankle. (I don't recommend the neck due to the possibility of it becoming a choking hazard... unless you can enchant against that!) Lacking modern manufacturing, however, chain mail is going to be harder for an enemy to cut off.

Now, that said, I'm using spells for mundane/domestic purposes. If the spell-wearer is expected to be physically mixing it up with enemies, or if you're otherwise worried about the bracelet getting snagged on something, you might want to consider cuffs (or bracers), possibly worn on the upper arm. Again, the interesting idea is to have something that holds a number of spell baubles (they come in standard shapes, right?) against the skin. Alternatively, you could just wear a long glove over the bracelet. (Or, if it's on your ankle, you might already be wearing it under a boot and/or sock. Secure, inconspicuous, but takes maybe a minute to put on or take off, compared to a few seconds if it's on your wrist.)

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems to play loose with OP's "physical contact with the body". $\endgroup$ Oct 27 '21 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ @OwenReynolds I think this is fine, it's not impossible to manufacture a metal bracelet where the enchanted beads can snap into in a way that still exposes them towards the skin and creates physical contact $\endgroup$
    – lenny
    Oct 27 '21 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ @lenny Yes, IMHO a hole to snap in the charm would improve the answer. Pandora bracelets are upscale charm bracelets -- the charms just dangle from it. $\endgroup$ Oct 27 '21 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ @OwenReynolds ah, okay, I wasn't aware of this distinction so your point makes sense. $\endgroup$
    – lenny
    Nov 1 '21 at 10:10
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A ring comes to mind of course. It's unlikely a ring will fall off unless it's ill-fitted. It's also really convenient to put on and take off when needed.

Alternatively a cuff bracelet may also be a good fit.

enter image description here

Personally, I would go all the way and wear a jeweled gauntlet.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ An arm ring / cuff is probably the best. They can usefully double as armour or even a weapon (Wonder Woman's bracelets); they're unlikely to fall off; they're generally more accessible and less fiddly than rings. +1 Before anyone complains about size or bulk: slap bracelet. Tuck a few with different effects into a convenient pocket and into the fray you go! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Oct 25 '21 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ This is assuming that they can use materials other than soft gold. Gold would really put a damper on the whole armor bit. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Oct 25 '21 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ Thanos approves! $\endgroup$
    – Trang Oul
    Oct 27 '21 at 12:54
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Ear rings or other piercings

Most answers here are seemingly stuck on the stereotypical magic rings, amulets etc. But the most convenient answer would be an earring (how do you spell that?) or other piercing.

  • It always makes skin contact. Depending on how stringent the rules of magic are, amulets, neclaces or the pandoras box answer can have seconds in a hectic fight where the jewelry has no skin contact, which could be devastating. Piercings are always directly on (and in) the skin
  • Very safe. Piercings are usually located in places that are not likely to get caught on anything (like rings or wildly swinging necklaces). They are in places where you have other problems if a weapon reaches there.
  • Moderately convenient they don't weigh a lot and can be taken off/switched out fairly easily. Just making a new "slot" for that extra jewelry need a new hole. However, you can have more or less infinite pieces of magic jewelry attached
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    $\begingroup$ 100% agree, piercings would be my default choice. You can also have piercings in... discreet... places, where they typically aren't seen and are very hard to reach (unless you are dressed for, let's say, very warm weather). So the stuff you want to switch often can be earrings, whereas the stuff you won't change on short notice can be worn a bit further down from your ears. $\endgroup$
    – gustafc
    Oct 26 '21 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ Piercings aren't as convenient to change out as finger rings, but it was an answer I considered. Where exactly OP sets the bar for that convenience will define which of our answers is better I think $\endgroup$
    – Kyyshak
    Oct 26 '21 at 9:55
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Chain mail

I can give you only option 2 and sort of 3. A chain mail. It consists of rings, which can be jewelry. It can be exchanged for a different one easily, although not quickly. It can make easily physical contact with your skin if you wear nothing else under it. The convenience is highly open to discussion. Although it doesn't restrict movements much, it does make it more difficult. In addition, there is a good reason not to have a chain mail in direct contact with your skin. Not only do you have rapid heat exchange in warm and cold situations, leading to under cooling or over heating rather quickly, but it'll feel like you're being pinched all over the skin it touches.

This isn't a problem with micro chains though. Still I assume these aren't feasible for the time period.

Why do I still propose it if it doesn't meet all your requirements? Because it's over the top powerful and people would use it. It is based in reality where chain mail is effectively used in combat as one of the most protective gears. The plate mail on top was just an after thought. Each ring is strong and a good shape to deflect. Most had multiple layers, so only the bottom layer is of interest as a jewelry holder, but that still means you have a big advantage.

This one guy has 20 rings on each of his fingers and arm and leg bands tight so he/she can still move? Impressive! A 600 ring build for 600 +5 rings = 3000 skill? Here's a chain mail where 10.000 rings are touching my skin. Still working on the leg section. Destruction of the opponent is very imminent.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just hope they don't act as a rag tag of individual chemicals, ready to explode when mixed together :D. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Oct 25 '21 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose one could argue that Frodo's chic mithril shirt was an uberblingelichious bit of jewelry! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Oct 25 '21 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ The ring of +5 against pinching should solve the issue of wearing chain mail on your skin... also with a chain mail you dont need to shoot for perfect +5 gear, which is usually exponentially more expensive than five +1 rings. That would cut down costs and still beat the guy wearing half a dozen necklaces made of rings. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Oct 25 '21 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan Unless the magic from multiple rings with similar enchantments doesn't "stack". $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Oct 26 '21 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ @nick012000 that would kinda destroy the premise of wearing ridiculous amounts of rings, necklaces, amulets etc. You might as well add the often used "cant wear too many magical items because they'll interfere!" Argument, which helps to remove the premise completely. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Oct 26 '21 at 12:04
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enter image description here

Safety pins

A safety pin with a gemstone attached satisfies your definition of jewelry. You can easily pin and remove them from your shirt or pants (on the inside, to ensure they touch your skin), or even your hair.

They also have an advantage over rings in that you don't lose them all if someone chops off your hand in combat.

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    $\begingroup$ The less modern version of this is brooches. Ones designed to lay against the skin for magic purposes would obviously be less flashy and more comfortable to wear inside the clothing than the typical ornamental ones. $\endgroup$ Oct 27 '21 at 16:08
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Q: "If we define jewelry as a combination of a gemstone and a piece of metal that is worn in such a way that it makes physical contact with the body, what form would enchanted jewelry take if it were designed from the ground up to be practical in a combat situation?"

Combat situation.. charmed.. that would be an

Amulet

I set out to put some authentic amulet examples/shapes to give you inspiration for a new design. Below examples would be used to cast a spell, or be powerful in other ways. Your definition makes it quite narrow, a gemstone was not an obvious part of amulets, pendants, charmed rings..
Meant as jewelry with a certain meaning, or working. In combat, Romans wore certain amulets giving strength, or power together..

Most amulets are silver or gold, with a coin, or inscription. Roman officers wore the portrait of the emperor as a pendant, or a ring..

enter image description here ( reproduction from http://www.artnet.com/ )

With gemstone, authentic amulets are rare. Amulets were kept/carried, or worn as a pendant, below example has a reference to magic, English, 16th century, but I'm not sure it was meant for spells, or combat..

enter image description here

(authentic museum piece, https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/75576099971063253/ )

In combat situations, a ring comes in handy. Just stretch out your arm, making a fist and do the magic. No need to grab deep into clothing or under a harness, for an amulet or pendant to use it.

Roman soldiers wore below ring on the battle field. Like the emperor ring, it is found frequently where battles have been fought. It is not a friendship ring, the clasped hands represented (military) virtue and discipline, or Virtus,

enter image description here (trade)

Here is another example shape, according to the description it is Tibetan, a sign amulet..

enter image description here (trade)

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  • $\begingroup$ Great info, and +1, but are you basically just saying it can be many pieces of jewelry by the given definition, but because it's magic jewelry it should be called an amulet by default? $\endgroup$
    – TCooper
    Oct 28 '21 at 22:54
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Let's try to provide an extra hook for the story, how do we prevent people from using such jewelry.

Earings

Loads of Earings

  • You have attachment points for many different pieces.
  • Generally visible, specific action required to conceal (rather than hand in pocket).
  • (Hook point) Ritual removal of ears as punishment.
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Belts (or even just the buckle)

It's not uncommon to see ostentatious belt buckles. While most are designed to avoid skin contact (metal feels cold) it wouldn't take much to give skin contact, if proximity isn't enough. If the belt itself is magical, skin contact might not be as needful, as encircling the wearer is probably enough for the enchantment to take hold.

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Assumption you are positing a "typical fantasy setting" based in medieval western norms:

Armbands and anklets.

Partly because they can be made of relatively thick metal making them more durable but also because they're in places people don't instantly think about when you say "jewelry".

Armbands were traditional among the Celts and the Norse but they weren't worn in later eras. They tended to be in the form of either a solid metal band with engravings, inlay, and other surface embellishments or be made of metal cable with a gap and jewels at the ends that don't quite meet. They are worn around the upper arm and neither form is easy to remove and they don't fall off if properly sized.

Anklets have been traditional jewelry in many eastern societies. They almost always take the form of a solid metal ring. They can't fall off if sized properly, especially if the person is wearing anything on their feet. Their unique location so far from the centre of focus of most people makes them very hard to notice for most people even during a modern pat down.

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  • $\begingroup$ Anklets need not be solid rings -- any form a bracelet can take, can be scaled up to fit an ankle. $\endgroup$ Oct 27 '21 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @CodeswithHammer I'm used to the other forms being called ankle chains or ankle bands or something of that nature while anklet, in my experience, has always referred to something in the bangle style of a solid metal ring. Also in terms of durability and lose prevention you probably want the solid band. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Oct 28 '21 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ Semantics noted. Placing enchantments on ankle jewelry is a novel idea, whatever one might call the particular item. $\endgroup$ Oct 28 '21 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @CodeswithHammer It's a good one to use as a Gamemaster to justify your party not finding an item on someone they search too, especially if you make it a mundane object that has a few small tools in it. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Oct 29 '21 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ You just gave me an idea: The party searches the NPC and finds a small doll made of animal hide. Will the PCs notice that (1) the doll has an alteration aura and can turn into nearly any small hand tool, and (2) I've set up a cheap pun worthy of Toon? $\endgroup$ Oct 29 '21 at 14:13
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Weapon Hilt

If we define jewelry as a combination of a gemstone and a piece of metal that is worn in such a way that it makes physical contact with the body.

Similar to Trioxidane's answer, I believe the best solution lies in adding gems to the things you already bring to battle, but instead of your armor which should really have some manner of arming coat between you and the jewelry, a hilt can have gems embedded into it and only benefit the user with a better, more textured grip.

A single sword handle can have dozens or even hundreds of gems worked into it making it easily capable of holding just as many enchantments as a whole hand full of rings, but unlike "worn" jewelry, gem encrusted weapon are grasped. This means you could carry multiple such weapons and simply draw which ever one has the combination of enchantments you like.

A wise person knows that a thing is more than the sum of its parts. If you have hundreds of enchantments at your disposal, some will work well together and some won't. By keeping your enchantments as package sets, each weapon you own can be easily selected for the right circumstance without having to shuffle around a ton of different rings or bobbles each time you want to change your loadout. Each sword has been painstakingly planned out to meet a different threat so that in the heat of battle, when circumstances change, you can change your whole loadout to the right combination of powers in a single action.

enter image description here

But it does not need to stop at just swords: you could have a gem encrusted wand for all your ranged spells, or a smaller personal item like a knife or a pocket watch for you "every day" enchantments.

enter image description here

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Charm Bracelet

The clue is in the name!

A bracelet can be made close-fitting enough to prevent it slipping off, and it can potentially be extended with extra charms (which may have additional enchantments to tie into whatever the bracelet itself has) by threading them onto the band.

Bracelets can be worn comfortably underneath a sleeve and will always be at least partially in contact with the wearer's skin.

Unlike some of the options mentioned elsewhere here, the charm-bracelet can have a clasp to allow it to be easily removed as well.

It's also conveniently near the hands if your magic relies on your source of power being close to where you cast from. (As opposed to a necklace/amulet around your neck, which is closer to your body-core and may be better suited as a defensive measure)

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I think you are being too pragmatic. For the story the magic property of the jewel matters more than practical considerations. A stone bringing enlightenment to the wearer would fit better on a crown or a diadem keeping the stone on the front, and if it doesn't fall doing the flips it's just another magic property.

You could look at the practical side for a stone like the one the Galadriel gave to Frodo, it would go on a ring or a bracelet to allow the wearer to point the light in a direction when needed. Even though that one would be better on the tip of a staff.

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In a similar vein to this chain mail answer, but independently developped, I present:

Chain

Yes, the most overpowered piece of jewelry you could conceivably wear would be a chain, where each link of the chain has its own enchantment. Links are tiny rings. You could wear it around your neck, but that may not satisfy the "physical contact with the body" requirement. So instead, you wrap it around a limb, like a forearm or leg. Tightly enough that it doesn't move, but not so tightly that it cuts off blood circulation.

The main selling point here is you can have an arbitrarily long chain, carrying an arbitrary amount of enchantment. Links could be designed to be removeable in the field, and by in the field I mean at camp, using tools. You can break down a chain into multiple chains. You can include non-magical links for style or function. You can even go more two-dimensional and fashion your chain into chain mail. A chain mail sock or sleeve would already be more rings than you could possibly wear on your fingers, and possibly more magic than you can actually use.

It's very modular is where I'm getting at.

Of course, if you have an attunment mechanic then you don't have to fiddle with the links, you just pick which enchantments to activate, typically after a good rest/meditation.

Low inconvenience to the wearer while worn

You can wrap a chain around a limb which shouldn't restrict your movements. Depending on the material and how much chain you have, weight may or may not become noticeable. How comfortable it is will likely vary on the metal used and how you wear it. Obviously you'll have a problem if you start covering yourself head to toe in chain.

Low risk of falling off in intense situations

If you wrap it well enough, it won't fall off. You can also wrap a bit of cloth over it, or just wear sleeves or pants, so that it will definitely stay in place.

Ease of switching out for other enchanted items as the situation might demand

It's a chain. Replacing a link in a chain is doable, but it's certainly something that demands a bit of foreplanning. In a typical RPG, that would be done during a rest. You can split the chain into smaller chains that carry groups of enchantments that you commonly use together. You can then swap a bit of chain for another easily.

However if you have an attunement mechanic, where the wearer decides to activate an enchantment or not, you don't even need to bother with that.

Pros:

  • Modularity. Which means:

    • Can be arbitrarily long, thus have an arbitrary number of enchantment.
    • Links can have arbitrary size, limited only by the skill of the jeweler (for how small they can be) and carrying capacity (for how big and how many you can have).
    • Can be split or combined at will.
    • Can be made to fit pretty much any body part.
  • Won't hinder movement with the right configuration.

  • Easy to conceil, unless you infiltrate a hammam, sauna, swimming pool, or other similar venue.

  • Can be removed whole easily.

  • Is bound to look pretty sick when wrapped around your forearm or biceps.

  • Can be worn under pretty much any sort of cloth or armour.

Cons:

  • Might require a minute or two to equip, so swapping chain in combat is going to be difficult.
  • Requires some preparation to swap the links, so definitely not possible in combat.
  • Is probably going to be more expensive than rings.
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Phallic objects!

0: Full skin contact - guaranteed.

1: Low inconvenience to the wearer while worn
-> Depends on wearer.

2: Low risk of falling off in intense situations
-> Might not be fulfilled in very intense situations. Can be amended by the specialized shape.

3: Ease of switching out for other enchanted items as the situation might demand (so nothing surgically implanted completely inside the body, for example)
-> Moderate. Can prepare before action, but rather not during action.

4 (bonus): Fully concealed!

Also, the proposed "jewelry" already exist in modern use.
I just... won't link to it. Or say what it is called.

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