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Necklaces have long been a popular way for men and women to decorate themselves. The earliest known necklaces date back 75,000 years and were found in Africa. Although today necklaces are made using a variety of materials, including metals and gemstones, early designs were crafted from stones, shells, feathers, and animal claws and teeth.
Before coins became a means of trade, beads were often used as currency and would eventually become a main component of early necklaces. The next evolution of the necklace used chains of metal to better display the beads. Soon early societies, such as the Etruscans, were using the chains to dangle charms or pendants. As with other jewelry items, necklaces indicated the wealth and societal position of the wearer.
Necklaces often served a role in many religious ceremonies as well because of the magical associations people placed on them. Certain stones and other items were believed to hold special powers that would protect the wearer.
While beads, chains and amulets provided many style choices for early necklace wearers, the Egyptians created another style. The collar necklace was generally only worn by wealthy Egyptians, who would even be buried wearing their jewels.
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