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Necklaces - History, Myths and Trends

Necklaces--A Bit of History

The tradition of wearing an adornment of the neck dates back thousands of years. Today, there is a wide variety of styles, but the first consisted of beads made from tiny stones and pebbles. In ancient Egypt, they made painted beads of pottery. A collar-style gold necklace called an usekh, was a very common adornment of the Pharaohs and other Egyptian royals. They loved their gemstones too and wore gold necklaces dripping in rubies, sapphires and other colored stones. The Romans created colored glass beads for their jewelry.

Not only were bead necklaces worn as decoration, but they also served as a form of currency. A price would be bartered and then the appropriate number of beads would be paid for a service or item. Think of ancient tribal people like prehistoric man or even the Native Americans. They would wear a necklace of bear claws, teeth, feathers and other parts as a way to tap into the spirit and powers of the animal while on a hunt. Adornments made from animals were also a status symbol and a show of power and virility. As the world evolved and progressed, so did the necklace and the various styles.

Necklaces--Today's Trends and Styles

Over the years, pretty much anything has been hung from a chain and worn as a necklace, so what is in fashion is really a matter of taste. First of all, while it may or may not be the loveliest part of a necklace, the chain itself is essential. There are many different types to choose from- tiny delicate links all the way to very large chain links, rope style, braided, herringbone and collar styles are among the most common. Materials for these chains are also varied. Gold, silver, platinum, leather, ribbon and even rubber are materials used in making chains.

In the 70s and early 80s, a popular trend began called add-a-bead necklaces . This style was marketed as a milestone counter- a bead was added for each birthday, or each child, or anniversary, whatever special occasion it was meant to commemorate. Along the same lines are the gold and silver necklaces that carry the birthstones of each child. Silver necklaces are also common with Mom and child figurines.

The initial is very popular these days. Men and women alike are wearing big bold initials on either a silver or gold necklace. Sometimes the initial is plain, but others have crystals or diamonds and other gemstones decorating it.

Fashion styles are always changing. One year, a choker style might be all the rage and the next year, chains that hang down the waist are popular. Layers of chains are also a trend that comes and goes. Some costume jewelry is not as inexpensive as it used to be because designers have gotten into the game of using materials like plastic beads, crystals and other materials to create some really unique pieces.

Diamond and Pearl Necklaces -- Classic Styles that Never Age

A solitaire diamond pendant is simple and lovely. It speaks volumes without having to show off- it just is. This style goes with anything! From t-shirts to evening gowns, the solitaire is just a simple statement of style.

Pearl necklaces are also a classic look. First Lady Barbara Bush was known for the strand that she always wore. Though these are classic, they cannot be worn with just anything like the diamond solitaire. Pearls are more of a special occasion piece of jewelry. In fact, the times when they are often worn are also moments when they are given as gifts. To a girl graduating college or a bride on her wedding day, a strand of pearls is a common way to commemorate the event.

A charm necklace is very versatile and is a standard style. With one simple chain, charms can be swapped out from day to day allowing the wearer to change her statement. One day, it might be a frog charm on a gold necklace and the next day, a heart. Maybe she found her prince?

How to Care for Necklaces

Most importantly, store all necklaces separate from each other. Just once trying to untangle a snarl of chains will ensure this happens! The best way to store them is hanging, each one on its own hook. A jewelry roll is another way to store them and keep them from getting tangled. Some rolls are made specifically for silver pieces and it helps keep them from tarnishing.

Cleaning the pieces depends on the types of material used- silver, gold, gemstones, painted beads, etc. Gold diamond necklaces can be cleaned in regular jewelry cleaner. Remember if it is put in an ultrasonic cleaner, thin chains can easily get tangled due to the agitation. It may be better to clean the pendants separately in this case. Necklaces are a great way to make a fashion statement and really show off your personality. Whether you like slim delicate pieces or bold and chunky ones, the world of necklaces is wide open.