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A few preliminary words may be said respecting the evolution of some of the various ornaments employed on the different parts of the body. The custom of decorating the head with jeweled ornaments was probably suggested by the natural idea of encircling it with flowers in token of joy or triumph. The use of diadems was in early times generally reserved for those of noble birth. From the fillets employed for binding the hair, developed circlets, which with the addition of precious stones assumed the dignity of crowns. The use of earrings as personal ornaments seems to have originated in the East, where they have always been in favor.
Earrings formed an important article of jewelry during the classical ages, but they were not commonly worn again in Europe until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. At the present moment fashion does not decree their general use.
The necklace—one of the most primitive of ornaments—is worn either close round the throat, loosely-round the neck, or low down upon the breast. Occasionally, as among savage peoples, it takes the form of a ring ; but as a rule it is formed either of a simple cord, or a chain formed by the appropriate linking together of rings, perforated discs, or pierced balls. Artistic effects are produced by a regular alternation of these details, as well as by the tapering of the chain from the middle towards the ends. Neck-chains with symbolic elements are those worn as orders and as signs of dignity.
The necklace may be further ornamented by a row of pendants, or more generally a single pendent ornament. The pendant thus employed has become, perhaps, the most beautiful of all articles of adornment. It occupies a conspicuous position upon the person, and possibly for this reason has evoked the greatest skill and refinement of the jeweler’s art. Its varieties are manifold—from the primitive charm, and the symbolic ornaments of the Middle Ages, to the elaborate pendant, for the most part purely decorative, dating from Renaissance times.
Next comes the important group of ornaments worn chiefly on the breast, comprising brooches, clasps and pins, employed for fastening the dress. All have their origin in the simple pin. To this class belongs the hair-pin, of which the most handsome and varied examples are to be found in ancient work. Unlike modern hair-pins which are provided with two points, they have a single cylindrical or slightly conical stem, pointed at one end, and terminated at the other with a knob or some other finial.
A simple pin for the dress was uncommon in antiquity, and its general use for this purpose belongs to comparatively recent times. Its place was always taken, especially in early periods, by a brooch—an outcome of the pin—which supplied the want of buttons.
The brooch, an ornament of very considerable importance, can be traced down from the earliest civilization, and is a valuable criterion in questions of ethnic movements. The story, however, of the growth of each of the different classes into which primitive brooches may be divided, the periods at which these ornaments made their appearance, and the deductions of ethnographically interest that may be drawn therefrom, must of necessity lie outside the scope of the present work.
All brooches, as has been said, originated from the simple pin, which itself was preceded by and probably derived from a thorn. At an early period this pin, after having been passed through the garment, was for greater security bent up, and its point caught behind the head. Later, in order that the point might be held more securely in the catch, the pin was given a complete turn, which produced the spring, as seen in the common form of our modern safety-pin. Thus constructed, the brooch, though in one piece, may be said to consist of four parts :
(a) the ecus or pin ;
(b) the d spring or hinge;
(c) the safety-pin, catch or locking apparatus, which forms the sheath of the pin; and
(d) the bow or back—the framework uniting the spring with the catch.
From this primitive safety-pin, which is the foundation form of all brooches with a catch, developed the numerous varieties and patterns of the brooch or fibula of succeeding ages. Among these is the Roman fibula, which instead of being made of one piece of metal, is of two pieces—the bow and the ecus. The pin here works on a hinge—the result of gradually extending the coils of the spring symmetrically on each side of the pin into what is known as the double-twisted or bilateral spring, and placing a bar through the coils thus made.
From the brooch hinged in this manner originated the Roman provincial fibula of the T-shaped type common in France and Britain, and later the cruciform brooch of Ansflo-Saxon times. The brooch with a hinge was exclusively used until the revival of the ” safety-pin” with a spring, patented as a new invention in the nineteenth century.
In addition to the above brooches or fibiilae (group i)—all developments of the safety-pin type—there are three other large groups of brooches: (2) the circular disc type; (3) the pen annular or Celtic brooch ; and (4) the ring-brooch.
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