The birth of the necklace is to start at the very beginning of the history of antique jewelry itself. At some unrecorded moment forever lost in the uncertainties of a pre-historic age the profound human need for self-adornment led to ornamental objects being pierced, threaded or woven and hung around the neck. More than likely some of the first antique necklaces were of floral origin, and even now in Europe many very young children make daisy chain necklaces.
The demand for ornaments more lasting and more exotic than flowers and fauna fueled by extensive trading networks that even in the early antique periods had begun to cover vast areas of western Asia and Europe saw beads of different materials and colors being traded. In antique necklaces, in each succeeding antique period developments can be seen as new materials and new inventions began to affect the style of neck jewelry adornments. As a form the antique necklace has been very susceptible to change that perhaps more than any other area of antique jewelry, it has benefited from man's discovery of new gemstones, new materials, but above all from mans ingenious invention of new techniques that have enabled revolutionary new surface effects, such as enameling, to be created.
If one looks back to the different antique periods one can only speculate if different vintage necklaces were specifically designed for special recipients, and whether the wearers physical appearance and attributes were studied by the antique designer before carrying out the commission. If Greek mythology is to be believed, then the necklace Harmonia, a daughter of Aphrodite, wore at her wedding to the mortal Cadmus, a gift specially crafted by Hephaestus the Greek God of fire, after the fate of the two of them they were turned into serpents; became famous for its reputation of being fatal to all who possessed it and, as with so many episodes in Greek mythology, the story reflects a social attitude towards the aspects of everyday life, particularly the age old custom of placing amuletic necklaces on children to protect them from the various evils that caused so much fear among the peoples of the Ancient World. Even in the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian antique periods, intaglio and cameo necklaces were worn with either a portrait of Jesus or the various saints to ward of various evils and ill fortunes.Antique, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco and Retro Jewelry have all been influenced by the needs and various fashion styles of the period, and below you have pictured and can read about a small proportion of the antique necklaces that can be found be found at Beverley R Antique Jewelry.
Antique Georgian Chain Necklace
These were known as muff chains, and would reach as far down as a ladies midriff area. This was a period when ladies did not wear gloves, but mink or fur hand muffs, the 1820's was also per-industrial revolution, and the main form of transport was the horse and carriage, which required both hands to get into, consequently for convenience ladies would hang their muffs on the chain to free the use of the arms. The antique muff chain pictured has every link handmade, and has an ornate hand clasp. Now a lot of ladies either wear them long or double them over as decorative necklaces.
Antique Victorian Gold Collar
The antique Victorian period was a time when people liked versatility, and very often had what was known as 'day & night' convertible pieces. The collar pictured is in 18 karat yellow gold and with Victorian fashion being as it was would have been worn short, but with enough length to rest upon the collar bones. But if you notice the back of the collar has been pictured and there is a loop at the opposite end from the clasp where a large pendant or locket would have been attached, transforming the collar into a suitable necklace for evening attire.
Antique Victorian Fringe Necklace
The piece pictured is an antique old mine cut diamond fringe necklace. This was a period where platinum had not been discovered, and they did not know how to make white gold, but they did know that diamonds looked brighter when they were set in a white metal. The mount is 18 karat yellow gold, but then they put on a silver top to set the diamonds in. The fringe/drop design was very popular in this period.
Antique Edwardian Jewelry
As was mentioned at the beginning of this blog, in early antique times cameo pieces were worn picturing various saints as charms. This practice has persisted, and here we have an antique piece from circa 1915. The piece is in platinum with a sculpted Saint's head set within a platinum and calibre ruby frame.
Antique Art Deco Necklace
The 1920's and 30's was a very decadent period in history. It was a period where a lot of diamonds and precious gemstones were used, and whole mounts were made of platinum. Pictured is a 1920's platinum and diamond 'swag' necklace. In contemporary times ladies would much more consider this as a piece of evening wear, but back in the Art Deco period, this piece would not just be considered something for the night, but for everyday attire as well.
Retro Diamond Torque Necklace
Again 1940's and 50's vintage pieces where very stylish and chic, and again the use of gold rather than platinum was much more popular. Here we have pictured a gold and diamond antique torque necklace. Which would have been close fitting around the neck, just perfect for the lady who lunches.
This is just a small selection of the different style and types of necklaces that can be found at Beverley R Antique Jewelry here in Chicago.