The wreath is the means of fastening the crest to the helmet. The crest is placed above the helmet. When an artist depicts a shield with the crest above it on the wreath but the latter not attached to the helmet, he is guilty of an heraldic no-no. The crest cannot be airborne as though independent of the rest of the coat of arms. The wreath was of silk with a cord twisted round it and the crest was fastened upon it. The modern practice is to show the wreath in the alternate colors of the shield, usually the primary metal and primary color.
The crest itself is perhaps the most well known of all the parts of a coat of arms. Crests were very rudimentary things at one time, probably made of leather or light wood. The wonderful crests of modern times would have been out of place in medieval warfare. One Burmese knight has a Chinese pagoda as his crest. In other cases there are sailing ships in full sail as crests and all sorts of strange and unusual bearings. The origin of the crest is not easy to determine, but there is something to be said for the idea that it came from the sport of the jousting tournament. Tournament jousting was an expensive business and only the wealthier families could afford to partake. The loser had to give up his armor and horse to the victor. In one case, that of Prince Edward, later King Edward I, he was only able to participate in a tournament after his mother pawned some of her Jewelry to pay for his equipment. In Germany there was a ceremony known as the Helm Schau ( Crest Show) when the squires of the knights participating in the tournament carried their masters helmets on display so that all could see the crests.