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A necklace is an article of jewelry that is worn around the neck. Necklaces may have been one of the earliest types of adornment worn by humans. They often serve ceremonial, religious, magical, or funerary purposes and are also used as symbols of wealth and status, given that they are commonly made of precious metals and stones.
The main component of a necklace is the band, chain, or cord that wraps around the neck. These are most often rendered in precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum. Necklaces often have additional attachments suspended or inset into the necklace itself. These attachments typically include pendants, lockets, amulets, crosses, and precious and semi-precious materials such as diamond, pearls, rubies, emeralds, garnets, and sapphires.
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400 C.E. – 1300 C.E:
Early European barbarian groups favored wide, intricate gold collars not unlike the torc. Germanic tribes often wore gold and silver pieces with complex detailing and inlaid with colored glass and semi-precious stones, especially garnet. Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian groups worked mainly in silver, due to a deficit of gold, and wrought patterns and animal forms into neck-rings. In the Gothic period necklaces were uncommon, though there are a few records of diamond, ruby, and pearl necklaces. It was not until the adoption of lower necklines later in the Middle Ages that necklaces became common.
1400 C.E. – 1500 C.E: During the Renaissance it was fashionable for men to wear a number of chains, plaques, and pendants around their necks, and by the end of the 15th century the wealthiest men would wear great, shoulder covering collars inlaid with gems. Women typically wore simpler pieces, such as gold chains, or strung beads or pearls. By the end of the period, larger, more heavily adorned pieces were common among the wealthy, particularly in Italy.
1500–1600 C.E: Long pearl ropes and chains with precious stones were commonly worn. In the latter half of the century, natural adornments, such as coral and pearl, were joined with enamel and metals to create intricate pendants. Heavily jeweled, delicately framed cameo pendants were popular as well. Chokers, last worn commonly in antiquity, also made a resurgence at this time.
1600–1700: Few men in the Baroque period wore jewelry, and for women necklaces were unsophisticated, often a simple strand of pearls or delicately linked and embellished strands of metal with small stones. Later in the century, after the invention of new diamond cutting techniques, priority was for the first time given to the jewels themselves, not their settings; it was common for jewels to be pinned to black velvet ribbons. Miniatures also grew in popularity, and were often made into portrait pendants or lockets.