In East Africa, this specific kind of necklace plays a role in many different rituals of the Maasai tribe. In their culture, jewellery is not only the symbol of ornamentation but it also represents special occasions - such as weddings and celebrations - and relationships. For example, brides would often wear crafted, brightly coloured chokers, and the materials and sizes used took on different meanings. After marriage, this jewel would become something that had to be worn on a daily basis, just like our wedding rings so to say.

But who were the first people to actually wear chokers?

The history of the choker dates back thousands of years to the Sumer empire (the world's earliest civilisation) in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Women were mostly the ones wearing this piece of jewellery, often pairing it with other necklaces as a form of protection and power. In fact, the main purpose of having these items was both protective and amuletic. So the parts of the body which they felt needed to be taken care of were the throat, the head, the arms and the ankles, also because they were the weakest. They strongly believed in the infusing, special power of these objects, especially if they were made of gold - as this shiny material was often associated with the sun - and lapis, which people in Ancient Egypt connected with the life-giving powers of the Nile River.

Interestingly, chokers became popular and trendy again during the Renaissance, as several portraits of noble women show. The necklaces in the Western world were worn high on the throat and were a symbol of aristocracy, wealth, majesty and elegance.

Today, chokers are making their rounds again along with their seemingly more comfortable and easier-to-fit cousin, the collar, with both fine and fashion pieces finding their way into stores. So, here's another example of how fashion always repeats itself.

Something I can recall from my trip to Africa when I was 19 years old is that there were some people making a bracelet and the overall process was very simple: they would dig a hole in the ground, pour some warm silver in it, let it cool down and then hammer it as it became hard and cold. And there it was! The jewel was ready to be worn. 

Leave a comment