What Do Necklaces Represent?

What Do Necklaces Represent?

What Do Necklaces Represent?

Although necklaces can simply be an elegant or fashionable accessory that completes an outfit, jewelry can also be supremely special and extremely personal to each individual. From short skin-hugging chokers to long strings of beads that can be worn past the waist, necklaces come in a variety of lengths, designs and styles, and showcase a range of techniques, including intricate filigree and fine engraving.

Necklaces Have Been Part of Human Life for Centuries

Did you know that necklaces are thought to have been one of the first adornments humans chose to wear? People in prehistoric times created necklaces from natural materials including shells, feathers and bone, [1] and during the Bronze Age, necklaces started to be crafted from precious metals, glass, amber and gemstones.

Jewelry became an important aspect of dress during the Middle Ages. During the Renaissance, necklaces became more popular than brooches, which had, until then, been the most coveted type of jewelry [2]. Between the 14th and 17th centuries, necklaces with robust gold chains and gemstone adornments were seen as a sign of social status and wealth. Between 1400 and 1500, it was the height of fashion for men to wear a selection of pendants and chains. By the end of the century, men with large fortunes and plenty of status would wear collars that covered their shoulders, which were intricately decorated with inlaid gemstones.

In addition to being used as visible symbols of status and wealth, necklaces have also historically served religious, ceremonial and even magical purposes. Amulets and pendants have been commonly used as talismans or good luck charms, with particular symbols being used to offer protection from a range of supernatural forces or perceived disasters. The cross is an immediately recognizable form that plays an important role in Christianity to this day. A crucifix is often worn by religious clergy, whereas small gold crosses remain meaningful gifts for children at their christening or to mark their first communion. For many, a simple Silver Infinity Cross Necklace can be a comforting reminder that acceptance and love is as eternal as their faith.

Silver Infinity Cross Necklace

Interestingly, we also know that people valued precious materials from distant locations, as illustrated by the discovery of red coral likely imported from the Mediterranean that was discovered in a Neolithic burial site in the Alps [3].

The Evolution of Style

Necklaces are created to reflect the ideal features of the time, but designers and craftspeople also often choose to feature and celebrate elements that were popular in the past. Between 1500 and 1600, for example, chokers experienced their own renaissance, having not been commonly worn since antiquity. Now, we see necklaces that take inspiration from intricate beadwork collars that were popular in Ancient Egypt. Although the popularity of necklaces generally increased as necklines in fashion were lowered, people found creative ways to accessorize even the highest of necklines.

The Evolution of Style

Between 1600 and 1700, necklaces evolved considerably. By the end of the century, miniatures had become highly coveted, and many were transformed into detailed lockets and portrait pendants as a way for people to keep their loved ones close. This outward and elaborate expression of style was a marked contrast to the simple pearl necklaces and delicate chains that were popular at the beginning of the century.

The Importance of Materials and Tradition

There are a selection of materials that have been consistently used in jewelry for centuries. The diamond necklace, for example, is one of the most enduring symbols of prestige, glamour and wealth.

Similarly, pearl necklaces have endured from Roman times and have experienced several revivals during the Classical, Renaissance and Neoclassical eras. Many women in the UK and the US were gifted a short pearl necklace when they turned 16. Even now, the classic silhouette of a pearl necklace is an ideal accompaniment to smart business ensembles. Many brides also choose to wear pearls on their wedding day, particularly if a family has a string of pearls that has been worn by generations of women.

The Meaning of Necklaces in a Contemporary World

For many, necklaces carry the same cultural and personal significance that has been valued for centuries. In many ways, we are now spoiled by the number of styles and designs available to us that allow us to show the world the values we hold and offer a glimpse of our unique personality and tastes. A Medical Stethoscope Heart Collar Necklace is certain to appeal to many in the medical field and can illustrate that the wearer is an empathetic and giving person.

Medical Stethoscope Heart Collar Necklace

[1] https://www.newscientist.com/article/2126580-prehistoric-humans-made-jewellery-out-of-exotic-island-animals/

[2] https://www.langantiques.com/university/renaissance-jewelry/

[3] https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/early-iron-age-luxury-imports/

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