Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt like something was missing? Chances are you had not yet considered adding a necklace to your outfit. Necklaces are a way of accentuating the elegant curves of one’s neck while also communicating something about the wearer. Whether you are dressing for a night out on the town or trying to find a gift for a loved one, it is important to know what to look for when choosing a necklace. In this article, you will learn what a necklace is, how it has evolved, and find some helpful tips on how to choose the right necklace for any occasion.
Any article of jewelry worn around the neck is classified as a necklace. Necklaces are one of the oldest types of adornments worn. Depending on the materials used to create them, they can represent wealth, status, spiritual, ceremonial, or religious purposes. Ancient cultures had no problem finding a necklace. In fact, it was just the opposite. They made necklaces out of natural materials that they found, like feathers, bones, and shells. Throughout history, both men and women wore necklaces. The designs, materials, and craftsmanship were used to denote wealth, status in the community, and even where a person was from regionally.
In the early fifteenth through the seventeenth century, men commonly wore a necklace made from large gold links covered in jewels or enameled, called a Carcanet, as a status symbol. As clothing trends shifted, so did the design of necklaces. By the eighteenth century, wealthy women began wearing matching sets of jewelry. These sets would include a necklace, broach, earrings, bracelet, and either a pendant or tiara. The broach was meant to be worn during the day when women’s daywear featured higher necklines. In the evening, the broach would be replaced by the necklace to compliment bodices with lowered necklines.
When paired with a top that featured a lower neckline, necklaces accentuated the gentle curve of a woman’s neck, evoking one’s elegance, charm, and femininity. The concept of the matched set lasted through the early 20th century. As daily attire became more casual and new materials, such as plastic, became available, necklaces began to be mass-produced to meet ever-changing fashion and pop culture trends.
The style and message behind necklaces have continued to evolve for both men and women as pop culture trends have shifted from the “love beads” worn by hippies in the sixties to the gold chains popular with men in the seventies, to the ostentatious platinum and gold, diamond-encrusted pendants and chains worn by hip-hop artists in the twentieth century. Some necklace styles have remained the same. Often, these classics are tied to specific professions or symbolism, like the crucifixes worn by a member of the clergy and their disciples.
One of the best things about necklaces is the sheer volume of different elements to choose from.
With so many lengths and styles to choose from, finding the right necklace for the moment can seem daunting. Keeping these things in mind will help. First, consider the occasion. You will want to pair more formal occasions with your more elegant pieces and save your larger chunky pendants and costume jewelry for casual afternoon drinks with friends. Understated pieces work best for work or any event where you do not want to stand out, like a funeral.
Second, consider the colors in the clothing you are wearing. It is always best to choose stones or gems that complement the colors you are already wearing. Remember, you want the necklace to enhance your look, not detract from it.
Third, wear a necklace that complements the cut of your top’s neckline. For instance, wearing a choker with a turtleneck is not as good as pairing that same choker with a top that has a slight curve to the neckline.
Last, think about the other jewelry you intend to wear. You want your jewelry to match or complement your necklace.
Necklaces are an excellent way to add a little zest to any outfit. They can be simple and understated, like a gold chain in a herringbone pattern, or statement pieces like large, chunky stone pendants. Great for gifts and showing a little style, necklaces are an important part of any jewelry collection.
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