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What Do Necklaces Represent?

3 min read

What Do Necklaces Represent? - Le Gem Nouveau

What Do Necklaces Represent?

Necklaces can be so much more than an accessory worn to add a final finishing flourish to an outfit. In fact, some necklaces are extraordinarily special to the wearer for a variety of reasons. Whether a necklace was a gift from a loved one, a prized family heirloom or simply a piece that holds special memories from a particular occasion, there are myriad things a piece of jewelry can represent.

Necklaces also have significance to us humans as a collective, not least because they come in an array of styles, lengths and designs to suit all styles and tastes. From lengthy strings of beautiful beads that can be worn in layers and extend beyond the waist to short chokers that accentuate the neck and face, the necklaces we know and love today also demonstrate a variety of different techniques and craftsmanship.

Raw Amber & Pastel Gemstone Necklace

From necklaces made from precious stones, like this Raw Amber & Pastel Gemstone Necklace, to statement pieces adorned with seashells, like this 18k Gold Plated Assorted Shell Necklace, and carefully crafted locket necklaces that have been specifically designed to hold a special message from a loved one, like this 'Mylea's Moon' Locket Necklace, it’s easy to see how layers of meaning can be attached to certain pieces of jewelry.

'Mylea's Moon' Locket Necklace

Did You Know Necklaces Were Worn By Humans In Prehistoric Times?

Necklaces are widely thought to be the very first embellishment worn by humans. Early humans crafted jewelry from different natural materials, including bone, shells and feathers. There are many reasons experts believe early humans decided to adopt this practice some 60,000 years ago, the most significant one being that as they encountered new animals and plants during their migration across the world, they actively wanted to incorporate these new discoveries into their symbolic and figurative lives [1].

Necklaces Became A Status Symbol During The Renaissance

During the Middle Ages, outfits simply weren’t complete without jewelry, but it was during the Renaissance that necklaces had their moment in the spotlight. Until this point in history, brooches were the most popular type of jewelry, but as the popularity of necklaces increased, gemstones and gold chains worn around the neck indicated wealth and social status. Inspiration was drawn from the Roman and Ancient Greek world [2], with mythological and classical themes taking center stage.

Jewelry was such an integral component of society between the 14th and 17th centuries that many of the great Renaissance artists started their careers in the workshops of goldsmiths so they could learn the fundamentals of style clarity and line accuracy.

The Significance Of Necklaces To Ceremonial, Magical And Religious Practices

Necklaces haven’t solely been worn as a status symbol because they have, and in some cases continue, to hold significance in a variety of cultural, ceremonial, magical and religious practices around the world. Pendants and amulets bearing certain symbols have often been used as good luck charms, and the cross continues to be a symbol that has a significant role to play in the practice of Christianity.

Humans have also valued and revered particular materials for centuries [3], so much so that red coral from the Mediterranean was found in a burial site in the Alps dating to the Neolithic times.

Materials And Tradition Also Carry Significance

There are a selection of materials that have consistently been used in the creation of jewelry for centuries, including gold, silver, diamonds and pearls. The diamond, for example, is an enduring symbol of glamour, wealth and status. Likewise, pearls, which were made popular during the Roman times, have been worn by generations of women and continue to be a staple in jewelry boxes across the world. Many women in the U.S. and the U.K. were presented with a string of pearls on their 16th birthday, and to this day, brides often choose this symbol of femininity, fertility and long life [4] to wear on one of the most significant days of their life.

This Importance Of Necklaces In Contemporary Society

Necklaces have a rich history and tradition, which is partly why they play such an integral role in contemporary style. We now have an array of styles and designs at our fingertips, which allows us to find the perfect piece to complement every ensemble. Additionally, necklaces have become a way to showcase our values, personality and tastes. Zodiac pendants, like this Wanderlust Zodiac Pendant, are an excellent way to either represent yourself or hold a loved one close to your heart, pendants like this Mama Bear Necklace, can be a meaningful gift from a child to a parent or from a best friend to a brand-new mom.

Mama Bear 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/

[4] http://umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/P/pearl.html#:~:text=The%20pearl%20is%20a%20symbol,and%20it%20is%20highly%20feminine.

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