Jewelry craftsmanship would not be the same if there was not the beauty and significance of that special adornment we all know as “the necklace”. The purpose of its existence is to adorn our bodies with meaning, color, sparkle and preciousness, whether if getting prepared for a special occasion or just creating an everyday style. However, there is no denial that the way this jewelry creation has evolved is something that deserves the utmost awe and appreciation. This time we are going to talk about the history of necklaces and we are going to learn some extraordinary facts that you will surely be glad to know.
Blue Topaz & Diamond Pendant 3/4 Carat (ctw) in 18K White Gold
EARLY SAMPLES OF NECKLACES
Back to the beginnings of the history of necklaces, some jewelry reports claim that the first necklace-like adornments appeared during the Stone Age. Displayed in numbers, that would be around 40,000 years ago. Of course, we are talking about a prehistoric era when the materials, tools and trends we have on our disposal today were out of sight. Therefore, the very first necklaces were made of natural materials, such as wood, vine and believe it or not, animal senew. An important and very surprising fact is that the invention of the necklace was accompanied by another milestone in the history of mankind – the appearance of the first writing by the earliest civilizations in the Middle East.
As time went by, more complex designs of necklaces came to the world, including necklaces made of shells, bones and teeth. They were handcrafted in the form of beads. Some of the most remarkable samples in the history of necklaces are the ancient Celtic “torc” made out of twisted metal and the Irish crescent-shaped “lunula” that was developed during the Bronze Age.
Diamond Antique Fancy Floral Pendant 1 3/4 CTW in 14K White Gold
REMARKABLE STYLES AND TRENDS
As you can already imagine, how a necklace would look like was pretty much influenced by the tendencies in the period when it was designed, including the characteristics of the period itself. For instance, the ultimate purpose of Mediveal jewelry was to complement the graceful look of the dress, which was seen as the signature piece of clothing for women. Therefore, the broch that enjoyed its popularity as the basic jewelry adornment during the Rennaisance years, got replaced by the necklace during the Middle Ages. The most exquisite pieces were those with thick gold chains and plenty of gemstones. They set the bar for heirloom-quality jewelry with high value and were exclusively designed for the upper class in the society. Sadly, but truly, these necklaces were “out of the league” for the middle and the lower classes. This was just one of the many examples of the picturesque distinction between wealth and poverty.
The history of necklaces points out another popular generation of this kind – pieces that were designed to fit the neckline of the American and the European fashion dresses. Hence, necklines were lowered, which gave more open space to show off the beauty of the necklace. But, this did not mean that a necklace could not look stylish when worn on a higher neckline. For this purpose, it was developed a special necklace design called “carcanet”. It was also refered to as “jeweled collar” and it was the center piece of the 16th-century well-dressed lady. Carcanet necklaces were also worn by men as a symbol of status and power.
Floating Heart Diamond Necklace 1/2 CTW in 14K Gold
AN ESSENTIAL PART OF A JEWELRY SET
Slowly, but surely, the necklace has become one of the must-have pieces of the look of any elegant lady and a part of her ultimate jewelry set. Back to the 19th century, the everyday look of women got enriched with the presence of necklaces, besides their charms, earrings and bracelets. Since it was mostly appreciated as a statement-making jewelry piece, the necklace was highly recommended to be worn on evening occasions, rather than daily ones. When cheaper and less ornate designs were introduced, necklaces got a wider use and started to be also worn as day-to-day jewelry adornments.
Diamond Double Heart Pendant 1/5 CTW in 10K Two-Tone Gold
THE MATERIALS AND ORNAMENTS
When noble metals, such as gold, silver and platinum were discovered by the human hand, the jewelry craftsmanhip was taken to a whole new level and this massive change affected the making of necklaces too. The history of necklaces shows that the most precious and desirable necklace designs were those that featured the presence of diamonds, pearls and gold. And that is not a surprise at all, considering the fact that the diamond, for example, has been forever cherished as the most brilliant and luxurious precious stone of all; a symbol of prestige, glamour and endless elegance. Necklaces ornamented with pearls were of an exceptional importance and value at some point in the history, especially during the Rennaisance period (14th-17th century) and the reign of the English Queen Elizabeth I. The mid-twentieth century introduced another trend in the United States and England of offering a pearl necklace to the young lady who turns sixteen.
Diamond Cross Pendant 1 1/4 Carat (ctw) in 18K White Gold
A UNISEX JEWELRY CHOICE
One of the gretest things about necklaces is that they can be fully enjoyed by both men and women. Although at first, the trend of wearing a necklace was followed by the female jewelry audience only, as time went by, gentlemen were put in the game too. If truth be told, the American music industry was the one to blame the most. The 1960s hippies and the 1970s disco mania encouraged men to start wearing necklaces and boost their charm and handsomeness. Later on, the hip hop era made the necklace an essential fashion gadget of these artists. While necklaces for women are made of sleek, tender, lightweight metals, those destined to men feature thick chains with large pendants and are mainly made of gold and platinum.
Reversible Black & White Diamond Necklace 4/5 carat (ctw) in 14K Rose Gold
WITH OR WITHOUT A PENDANT?
The history of necklaces has shown that they can be designed in various styles that determine their components. Hence, we have those with a plain chain and those that feature a matching pendant. Generally, pendants are crafted of the same material as the chain and can be adorned with diamonds, gemstones and intricate engravings.
Written by: Liljana Tomova