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In every era and in every place, necklaces were fashioned to showcase the right ornamental and artistic elements. Each era also had some impact on the ones that came after it, and revivals of fashion are common. Examples are collars with Egyptian beading or classical Greek and Roman jewelry. In the Middle Ages, jewelry grew in importance as a part of attire, and in the late Gothic and early Renaissance eras, necklaces took the place of brooches as the main kind of jewelry. From the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries through the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, necklaces with gemstone settings and hefty gold chains with pendants were popular as indicators of social standing and wealth.

Most necklace fashion trends have been influenced by the kind of necklines found in popular clothing in Europe and America. In other words, larger and more intricate necklaces were visible as necklines were dropped. However, this does not necessarily imply that people did not wear necklaces when their necklines were high. A broad, jeweled or enameled gold link necklace that resembles a collar is called a carcanet, for instance. In the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, it was worn by males as a status symbol, encircling the base of the neck behind the ornate lace ruff on a man’s doublet, or worn with gold chains wrapped around the neck, or hanging over the shoulders down the front of bodices and doublets.

Gold, diamonds, and pearls have long held sway as the preferred necklace materials throughout the history of Western clothing. One of the most costly representations of riches, beauty, and status throughout history is the diamond necklace. Roman ladies preferred pearls, and strings of pearls have appeared in Renaissance and early eighteenth-century neoclassical clothing as revivals of Classical era features.