Unsurprisingly, the ‘Name Necklace’ doesn’t have its roots in Bradshaw’s jewellery box. From its earliest iteration used in the BC years, to its first entry into pop culture, the nameplate has a rich and colourful history.
Personalised jewellery was recorded as early as in ancient Egyptian times. Pharaohs would use rings engraved with symbols in a similar way to nameplates - to represent their identities. This style of ring, now known as ‘signet ’, are still worn today and, while they’ve become more of a fashion statement in recent years, it is still tradition to pass family crest-engraved rings down through the male bloodline.
Moving through to slightly more recent times, we find Victorian women who wore brooches engraved with their names. And within Jewish tradition in the Victorian era, women wore pendants that read ‘Mizpah’ to signify their separation from a loved one.
The nameplate’s big break wasn’t until much later, though. It first entered pop culture in the late 21st century, with the rise of New York’s hip hop scene. Jewellery was a huge part of the style, and no amount of bling was too much - from bejewelled pinkie rings to oversized gold medallions. It was a signifier of success for an in-crowd, but only started to pick up traction when Yo MTV Raps launched in 1988. The show broadcasted new music, art and style across America - and the street style of urban New York youths soon became something that everyone wanted a piece of.
One of the major pieces that made it out of the scene was the nameplate necklace that we know today. For young women of colour and ethnic minorities in the States, it was a particularly important piece of jewellery. It gave the chance to tell a story about their life and family history when they had so often been pushed aside by society. The nameplate allowed them to express their individuality on their chest, unapologetically.
Now, circling back to the ‘90s when the Carrie Bradshaw took the name necklace to prime-time TV. It soon became commercialised and a favourite of stars including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and J-Lo.
Although their presence in pop culture has remained strong, today it tends to be considered a ‘90s-inspired throwback piece. On Euphoria, an American show that recently captured hearts of youths across the world, it girl Maddy Perez sported a nameplate as part of her iconic vintage ‘fits. The piece, courtesy of BP, sold out immediately.