Uncovering the cultural history of the nameplate necklace

The “Nameplate necklace” also commonly known as the “Carrier necklace” today has a wide range of historic backgrounds. The nameplate necklace is associated with a name from historic ages and the name is none other than Marcel Rosa-Salas. Rosa-salas grew up in Brooklyn, there was a jewelry shop in the street near her home that she always passed by. Every time she crosses the shop she was amazed by a beautifully curved nameplate necklace that was decorated at the window of the jewelry shop. She believed that this piece of jewelry proclaims one’s presence in the world. She loved to describe her feelings about that particular necklace that she always admired. 

And finally, after working hard and achieving a high test score She wrote to her mother about her fondness for the necklace that she always wanted. And she finally got the $200 worth piece of jewelry. This was her first interrogation with jewelry. And it was going to mark a new age coming to her life. Ever since then she started to collect such customized jewelry. Her collection included not only letters explaining her name but also a wide range of other products such as a ring that reads “INFJ” which explains a personality trait, bamboo-style hoop earrings that say “pensive” which she claimed as her favorite word. “I love the cognitive dissonance that it evokes to have a bamboo earring that some may call ‘ostentatious’ or ‘tacky’ as an insult but to have it be paired with a word that is ostensibly its opposite and kind of embracement that contradiction,” she says. “That encapsulates who I am” she always has a different approach or attitude towards jewelry. 

For most of the nameplate jewelry owners, the product is something more than jewelry. Such type of personalized jewelry is believed to be socially functional as a tie to some particular culture. It not only enhances the cultural value but also describes the rich taste of awesome jewelry of the owner. If you dig deeper into the history of nameplate jewelry you will find many such stories like that of the Rosa-salas. One of the other famous characters related to nameplate jewelry was that of Sarah Jessica Parker’s sex and the city character. Where she proudly wore a nameplate necklace that was admired by many. Even her neighbor’s kids went to various jewelry shops in New York to find a similar style. 

“It’s not that history doesn’t exist, but it hasn’t been canonized by academia in a way that validates it as a cultural product worthy to study” described by Rosa-Salas. The nameplate necklace has recently been trending among the entire fashion market. But that doesn’t mean it has a read-worthy history. It has been made for ages long and also represents various cultural values. 

Later Rosa-salas who was a student at New York University in cultural anthropology paired up with Isabel Flower who was a photographer, writer, and an art forum editor by profession to start a project on the history of nameplate jewelry. They tried to dig further and collect the cultural traces of this piece of jewelry. The project was named ‘Documenting the Nameplate’. It was started in 2015 by two curious ladies. And by hard work and immense skills of exploring now, they host the top rank magazine with an episode on the nameplate jewelry. Then in 2017, both Rosa and flower combined their explorations and wrote their academic journal essay ‘Say My Name: Nameplate Jewelry and the Politics of taste’. The essay explains the various aspects of the historic and cultural values of nameplate jewelry. It also tells us about the antique jewelry taste helps us to case study it in a detailed form. There were three groups of people who viewed it in different manners. Some people considered it cool to describe one’s identity in their jewelry itself. And the group considered it as tacky, it was not acceptable for them to reveal their identity through a piece of jewelry. And some others considered it as space taking, they saw this nameplate jewelry as something that occupies a lot of space but is not worthy of giving it a try. Some specific lines from their essay are – “On the most personal level, wearing one’s name opposes the homogenization and cultural illegibility experienced by immigrants, low-income groups, and communities of color in the United States by making hypervisible the wearer’s unique identity.” Rose and flower also mentioned that one of their friend’s grandmother is also worn a nameplate necklace just after world war 2. Even some ladies wore necklaces written ‘Mizpah’ in it which shows they are widowed or separated from their loved ones. 

They also added how Sarah Jessica Parker popularized the nameplate necklaces through her act. And how well the public accepted this unique idea of fashion. Nameplate jewelry is just a system to overview a lot of bigger things about the cultural system of all over the world. The acceptance of the style tells us how information travels around everywhere and becomes legitimate. 

Then after the huge success of their work, they started to host public events which are specially conducted about the nameplate jewelry. In such events, people can visit to showcase their uniquely styled nameplate jewelry, click a photograph of it, and write down any significant history on how they got that piece of jewelry. This can also be done through online mode from any corner of the world. Thus such events play an important role in spreading awareness and interesting stories relates to many nameplates jewelry. 


Nameplates are not only to show others your details but it also has great historical values that need to be outshone. So jewelry is not something that is worn just for the sake of it anymore. It has many more functions and cultural values hidden in it.