Crests appear above the shield and are sometimes be used as badges. These go back to the middle ages where statues or decorations which were used as a further distinguishing feature for the knight during jousting. In due time it would be used in heraldry to differentiate similar coat-of-arms and to denote the status of the arms holder. In Maltese and International heraldry, a heraldic beast or monster displayed in the shield is often displayed on the crest.
In different systems of heraldry, different forms of crowns are used especially in monarchical states. In republican states either old royal crowns (as in the case of most of Eastern Europe), mural crowns or wreaths are used.
In states where a monarchy and nobility exists different forms of crowns for different grades of nobility as barons, marquees, dukes and others. In republics on the other hand and even during the First French Empire different headgear, hats and toques would be used to make a distinction and identify the holders of the various coat-of-arms.
In ecclesiastical heraldry, different forms of headgear are used. Within the Catholic hierarchy, different headgear are used from the Papal Tiara, hats for cardinals and various prelates .
In heraldry, supporters are figures usually placed on either side of the shield and depicted holding it up. These figures may be real or imaginary animals, human figures, and in rare cases plants or inanimate objects. Often, these can have local significance. Letters of the alphabet can also be used as supporters in the arms of Valencia, Spain.
Human supporters can also be allegorical figures, or, more rarely, specifically named individuals.