Freya, along with her brother Frey, was a fertility goddess who belonged to the Vanir, but lived with the Aesir faction of the Norse gods.  As well as being a fertility goddess, she was also a goddess of battle.  She was beyond beautiful and had no problem getting men to do things for her.  Over time, Freya began to have a great longing for gold.  She had seen the many treasures that Loki (a trickster God) had brought back from the Giants and she wanted some for herself.

One night, she snuck away from her husband and went in search of the Giants.  She came across four Dwarves who possessed the most beautiful necklace ever created.  They had made it of gold, rubies, and amber and Freya had to have it.  The Dwarves made a bargain with her.  She could have the necklace if she wouls lay with each of them.  Freya was disgusted, but then she looked upon the necklace, Brisingamen, again and she told them that she would comply.

When she returned from spending her time with the Dwarves, she found that her husband had disappeared.  She searched many years for him, but she was never to find him.  She had first coveted Brisingamen for its beauty and would wear it to dazzle all who would look on it, but now she wore it like a collar, showing her weakness and loss.

There are many versions of this story, as there are with most myths, but this captures the gist of it. I know that it isn’t the most uplifting tale of jewelry and mostly perpetuates the idea that women will do anything for riches, but it does show the importance of necklaces in the past.