From the “Carrie” necklace to engraved pendants, customized jewelry has never really fallen out of fashion. Maybe you’re drawn to the fact that your necklace is a small reflection of who you are. Or maybe you want something that can’t be found at Urban Outfitters. As scientists, we know that what really makes you, well, you. It isn’t your name, it’s your DNA.
We’re all made out of a combination of genetic material from two people (aka: mom and dad). And mom and dad are, in turn, made out of combinations from two other people (aka: grandpa and grandma). As you make your way out of childhood and into the reproductively fertile years, your body starts to produce customized cells (egg and sperm). In the event you want to swap genes with someone you find biologically fit, the new person you end up making will be a combination of you two.
Through chromosomal crossover, biology makes sure that these eggs or sperm cells are as varied as possible. Meaning, your children aren’t just clones of you, despite how it feels at times. While mother nature isn’t exactly in the business of customized jewelry, she does have survival in mind. The more genetic variation, the more chances you have of surviving whatever life throws at you.
So next time you’re out on the town, waging biological warfare with the other members of our species, wear a customized piece that truly reflects your uniqueness. There’s hundreds and thousands of people out there with your name, but there’s no one with the same DNA.*
*unless you’re an identical twin. There’s always an exception to the rule in biology.