During the Renaissance period, helmets were fixed with a crescent shaped gorget that was used to protect the neck and throat. When New World colonists came to America, they brought with them open face helmets and gorgets for protection against Indian arrows. The helmets were given up for lack of mobility, but the gorgets continued to be worn by officers as a badge of military rank and authority.

Native Americans readily accepted the shape of the gorget as a symbolic token of the strength and power of the moon, and referred to them as "half moons".

British, French and English gorgets were either engraved with the Royal Arms of the current monarch, or state and family coat of arms.

Trade gorgets were usually engraved with totems or clan symbols such as animals, fish, flowers, birds and serpents.
This Indian Chief is wearing a large gorget with European Arms engraving.