A jewelry piece worn around the neck (aka; throat chakra), necklaces can be traced back through the history of mankind as preferred by both genders. It has also been used as a mark of hierarchical differences in various cultures in distant time periods.
Along with other jewelry, necklaces communicate wealth, power, prestige, and elements of identity and position.
History: Necklaces were perhaps the first man-made objects used as an ornamental possession since the beginning of civilization. Initially worn with beads around the neck, these were decorated, engraved, or polished using precious and semi-precious stones, pebbles, and beads.
Archaeologists and historians have excavated evidence of prehistoric jewelry remains made from stone and clay beads, handcrafted and chipped into different shapes that were then embedded into threads and worn around the neck. They are also considered as the first kind of neck chain.
Typically, these were found among remains of the Swiss lake dwellers, thought to be the ancestors of the Irish Celts. The earliest excavations of necklaces found were from 30,000 B.C. which were made from stones, animal teeth, bones, claws, and shells strung onto thread. Later, after 2500 B.C., gold, copper and other metals became more popular.
Values: Time and again, necklaces were made using appropriate decorative and stylish features as a mode of communication through each period, varying from region to region. Each period has influenced the style of a specific region to showcase the importance of culture and heritage – among which classical Greek and Roman necklaces or Egyptian beadwork collars are the classic examples.
During the Middle Ages, jewelry was considered an integral part of dressing, and necklaces replaced brooches in the late Gothic and the early Renaissance period. Necklaces studded with gemstones locked in heavy chains marked a distinction of wealth and social status from the fourteenth until the late seventeenth centuries.
Making: In the sequence of necklace-making history, certain materials have long held reign including gold, diamond, and pearls. Diamond necklaces symbolize wealth, prestige, and status at all times, whereas pearls are considered a material of glory and charm, denoting significance of class and eminence. Anecdotally, during the mid-twentieth century, short strands of pearls were preferred by young Americans and British women during their sixteenth birthday, and has remained popular ever since, among professional and business women. Gold necklaces have gained in importance in the wealthy communities from the Asian sub-continent over pearls, and is available in varied forms for all classes.
The use of imitation and synthetic diamonds, along with pearls in necklace-making, equalizes to some degree the concept of ‘preciousness’ to give a majestic look, and is available to the masses and diverse audience of the modern era.
Types: Necklaces are generally classified as:
- Collar Necklace: popularly known as crew neck, ‘Collar Necklaces’ are around twelve to fourteen inches long worn halfway up of the neck.
- Choker Necklace: generally worn under the collar bone, ‘Choker Necklaces’ are fourteen to sixteen inches long, commonly come in a single strand, and are stiff and remain tight around the neck.
- Princess Necklace: Princess Necklaces are worn under the collar bone and are around seventeen to nineteen inches long. These go quite well with dresses having a crew or polo neck.
- Matinee Necklace: among the most adaptable forms of necklace, Matinee necklaces can be worn on formal and informal dresses.
- Opera Necklace: best used to create a dramatic look, Opera necklaces are twenty-eight to thirty four inches long. This type of necklace marries well with formal gowns.
- Rosary Necklace: Rosary necklaces are ‘Y’ shaped with a cross pendant.
- Graduated Necklace: single-strand Graduated necklaces are beaded with small pearls graduating bigger at the center.
- Plastron Necklace: Could be both stiff and flexible, Plastron necklaces are heavy and cover the whole chest part of the body.
- Twist Necklace: made up of lot of twisted strands, Twist necklaces go well with part wears.
- Rope Necklace: around thirty five to forty five inches long, Rope necklaces are one of the most stylish forms of necklaces with several knots to give a unique appeal.
Amber Teething necklaces: Amber teething necklaces have gained immense popularity in the last couple of years globally, as parents believe that their child remains calm, cries less, and expresses less teething discomfort, if wearing amber beaded necklaces. Amber is perceived to help ward off evil spirits and keep the child safe from harm, hence they are preferred strongly in amulets/jewelry for children. These necklaces are thought to enhance the natural beauty of the baby and would also signify the wealth, social status, and standing of the family.
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