Necklaces are a timeless variety of accessory, with styles that continue to evolve to this day. From modern pendant necklaces to classic strings of pearls, there’s a necklace out there to complement any outfit or occasion. What’s more, you can find necklaces from any number of stores, boutiques, and designers. Simply put, necklaces are a must-have in a fashion enthusiast’s wardrobe.
Necklaces have a history that goes back further than many people may imagine. In fact, the creation of the first known necklace dates back 40,000 years to the Stone Age. This makes the necklace an earlier invention than writing itself, which was found in Near Eastern civilizations. The earliest necklaces were worn by men and women alike and were constructed from animal sinew or plant materials, such as vine. This makes them quite different from the jewelry we wear today.
It wasn’t until the introduction of metalwork in society at about 8,700 BC that necklaces began to evolve, becoming sturdier, longer-lasting, and more detailed in design than the original primitive styles. Today, necklaces range from bare and simplistic to breathtakingly intricate. Twine, string, wire, and cord make up the most common necklace stringing materials. From there, the possibilities are endless as far as embellishments go.
Necklaces may be embellished with small metal charms, rhinestones, pearls, or even precious gems including diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Predictably, the value of its embellishments greatly determines to cost of a necklace. But, the construction of the chain can make a monetary impact, too. Genuine gold and silver-plated chains are expensive, while simple sterling silver chains are affordable, attractive, and still, provide a decent level of durability.
With so many necklaces to choose from, it’s helpful to understand the many varieties of this type of jewelry in greater detail. That’s why we’ve gathered up the facts on the main necklace types, which you can find below. Whether to wear every day or to accompany your best dress, necklaces can be a treasured part of your jewelry collection.
Classy, traditional, and beautiful, pearl necklaces have been a popular choice of necklace among women for a countless number of years. Varying in length and pearl size, this type of necklace exudes femininity and coordinates well with many different varieties of attire.
Pearls are considered to be the Earth’s most long standing gem. The oldest known piece of pearl jewelry is from the year 420 BC and was worn by a Persian princess. This fragment of pearl was discovered in her sarcophagus and can now be seen in Paris at the Louvre museum.
Natural, genuine pearls are found in the sea. When a foreign material, typically a parasite, gets into a clam, mussel, or oyster, a special liquid covers the parasite as a form of protection. Over time, this results in the formation of a shiny, gorgeous, and valuable pearl. Natural pearls can be extremely expensive, which is why fake, or imitation, pearl were developed. Imitation pearls are more affordable and may make pearl necklaces more accessible to everyone. However, the thin coating that gives a fake pearl its shine can deteriorate over time.
Pearl necklaces may feature one or many different colors of pearl. Pearls exist in various shades and tones, not just the traditional white that we all immediately picture. Gray and pink are other common pearl colors. You may see pearls in shades of brown, beige, blue, purple, green, and even black. Pearl necklaces that include a range of different pearl colors can create a singular and interesting visual effect.
Main Features of Pearl Necklaces
- Pearl necklaces may be layered for a regal effect. Many women choose to pair two or three pearl necklaces of varying lengths together for an elegant look. This accessory trend may work well for professional or evening wear.
- Pearls have a softer, more subtle look than metals like silver and gold. As a result, they’re often worn with feminine attire like flowing dresses and blouses. Many women choose to wear pearls to accompany their white dress on their wedding day.
- Pearls are wonderfully individual from other precious gems in that they require no polishing to maintain their shine. Genuine pearls will stay beautiful all on their own for years to come.
- An alternative to sparkly jewelry made using rhinestones or jewels, pearl necklaces have a subtle shine without an overwhelming look. A pearl necklace may be the perfect choice of accessory to wear with an outfit that’s already heavily rhinestoned; the understated beauty of the pearls will provide tasteful balance to the look.
While a variety of types of necklaces hang on a chain, chain necklaces have a category all their own. A simple variety of jewelry worn by men and women alike, chain necklaces are popular in today’s world. This is likely due to their versatility and neutral design.
Chain necklaces come in many different lengths. While some options may sit closely around the neck, only slightly larger than a choker, others are long and extend as far down as the chest. This type of necklace also varies in thickness; thick chains are prominent and visible, while thin chains have a subtle, delicate look.
Chain necklaces are usually made in gold or silver tones. Platinum is another common material for jewelry chains. This simple, elegant style is what draws so many people to wear chain necklaces. In recent years, rose gold has become a popular color for many different types of jewelry. So, unsurprisingly, rose gold chain necklaces have also become a sought-after necklace variety.
Chain necklaces may seem very simple and straightforward. But, there are actually numerous different styles of chain necklace, which gives shoppers several options to choose from. A few common chain necklace types include the curb & cuban, the rolo, and the box.
The “curb & cuban” is a common design for men’s chain necklaces and is characterized by flat, oval links that are connected in a twisting pattern. Rolo chains use relatively thick circular links in a simple, elegant pattern. Box chains are unique in that they feature square links, not round ones. The square links are connected in a way that creates small box shapes.
Main Features of Chain Necklaces
- Chain necklaces are secured at the back with some type of clasp. The clasp ensures that the necklace will stay put and not fall off. Many clasps consist of a small ring and a hook that can open and close. Sometimes, the necklace will have a line of rings so that the wearer can shorten or lengthen the necklace to his or her preferences.
- To adjust the size/length of a chain necklace, you can often visit a jewelry professional (or the manufacturer of the necklace itself) and have them add or remove a certain number of links. By taking away a few links, the necklace will become smaller and sit higher up on your neck. By adding a few links, the chain will extend downward, further from your neck.
- Thin chain necklaces can easily be transformed into pendant necklaces with the addition of a charm. Or, you can even hang a locket onto a thin chain necklace. As such, chain necklaces offer great versatility and are a clever way to get more wears out of your jewelry.
- The price of a chain necklace depends entirely on the metal that it’s made out of. Gold plated chains or chains made entirely of gold can cost thousands of dollars, while alternatives made of sterling silver can be purchased for as low as $30. As such, chain necklaces are a type of jewelry that can be bought and worn by people from all walks of life.
Bib necklaces get their name from the bibs that baby’s wear to stay clean when they’re being fed. But, far from this type of infant clothing, bib necklaces are a highly adorned variety of jewelry. With a large surface area to display gems, jewels, and other decorative details, bib necklaces are a striking and fashionable necklace type.
Bib necklaces are large compared to most other necklace types. Many bib necklaces are so large at the front that they conceal a portion of the wearer’s chest. Due to this stylistic detail, bib necklaces are often paired with simple tops and low necklines.
Bib necklaces fall under the category of “statement jewelry”. Statement jewelry is defined as pieces of jewelry that act as the focal point of an outfit. Statement jewelry pieces are typically large, draw the eye, and may be brightly colored. Statement jewelry is bold and can take a look from plain to extraordinary. Bib necklaces are the main type of statement necklace in part due to their size, but also because of the huge number of possibilities when it comes to stylistic details.
Main Features of Bib Necklaces
- One frequently seen bib necklace style features a cascade of beads in a large, abstract form. With this type of bib necklace, the beading covers a large portion of the collar bone and may cover some of the chest. The beads or jewels may be arranged in an orderly, deliberate pattern, or the gems may be strung in such a way so that they hang randomly. The former is commonly worn with dressy attire, while the latter can be added to an outfit for a bohemian feel.
- Rhinestone bib necklaces can often be found around the necks of celebrities on the red carpet. Due to the high volume of embellishment that it takes to create a spectacular bib necklace, versions of this accessory made from valuable gems can be worth an exceptional amount of money.
- You may see bib necklaces being referred to as “chunky”. Chunky bib necklaces feature large, prominent embellishments, such as gems measuring as tall or wide as an inch. These large decorations are combined to create a large and weighty necklace – practically the definition of a statement piece.
One of the most popular necklace varieties, pendant necklaces typically feature a thin chain and a prominent decorative pendant. Pendants are worn by many people because they’re appropriate for a variety of occasions, from casual get-togethers to formal events.
Pendants are a fundamental necklace variety (although you should note that pendants may also be hung from bracelets or earrings). The origins of pendants can be traced back to the Stone Age when talismans and amulets were commonly worn by people around the neck. Ancient Egyptian pharaohs often worn pendants, many of which were exceptionally large, as a symbol of their high status in society. Pendants at this time were made in all sorts of interesting shapes, from the forms of gods and goddesses to creatures including flies, serpents, and falcons.
The rise in popularity of religious pendants, namely those shaped like the cross, dates back to the Middle Ages. It was at that time that Charlemagne infamously wore one of the earliest pendant reliquaries. It enclosed relics of the crown of thorns and True Cross. These relics were positioned underneath a valuable sapphire encased in gold.
Pendant chains are generally made from gold or silver. The chain is quite thin in order to accommodate the pendant, which can range in size. Pendants have a small metal loop at the top, through which the chain is strung. The chain will vary in length depending on where you want to necklace to fall. But, generally, pendant chains are on the longer side, usually measuring about 20 to 25 inches.
Due to the enormous range of pendant designs out there today, this type of necklace comes in a sweeping assortment of colors, sizes, and styles. Sterling silver pendants are quite popular and have an elegant look. They can be matched with all sorts of outfits. Similarly, gold pendants can be worn with all sorts of attire and add a classy touch to any look.
Pendants generally hang lower down the chest than a plain chain or choker. To make more of a visual impact, many pendants are large in size and hang on long chains. Small pendants are more likely to be referred to as charms.
Main Features of Pendant Necklaces
- There are endless possibilities when it comes to the shapes that pendants are made into. From basic shapes, like spheres, ovals, diamonds, and hearts, to intricate designs, knots, and even animals or images from nature, pendants can take the shape of just about anything. Some people wear pendants in the shape of the first letter of their name, or even the initials of a loved one. As aforementioned, religious symbols like the cross are also hugely popular.
- Pendants are ornamental, but these charms often hold personal significance for the wearer. Pendants are common family heirlooms and may be given as gifts on special occasions, or at major milestones in life.
- Pendants may be worn by men or women. While pendants for women commonly include rhinestones or jewels, men’s pendants are typically on the plainer side. Men’s pendants are often made from gold or sterling silver and may be hung on a thicker chain.
- Sometimes, multiple pendants are strung onto a necklace to create an interesting, layered look. This is generally done with smaller pendants, as larger pendants may become uncomfortably heavy when worn together.
Chokers are a common choice of necklace among people of all ages. Characterized by a short length that either sits right at the base of the neck or wraps closely around the neck, chokers can be elegant or edgy, traditional or trendy. Perhaps that’s why chokers have been a go-to necklace variety for so long.
Chokers are simple by design. The limited length provides less room for decorative elements, though many chokers still feature glittering gems and intricate details. Constructed from all sorts of materials, whether it be a strip of velvet or a metal chain, chokers appeal to various members of the population because of their versatility as an accessory. For everyday wear, for casual parties, or for dazzling events, chokers can fit the fashion bill.
In modern times, the choker is often seen as a symbol of fashion in the 90s. It was around this time that chokers were enormously popular among TV stars, such as the iconic Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and musicians like “The Spice Girls” and Brittany Spears. Celebrities wore this type of necklace as part of the grunge trend throughout the 90s, but the popularity of this necklace style waned in the years following it. That being said, chokers are unarguably timeless, with a history that can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times.
The earliest chokers were worn as symbols of societal status, as well as to decorate the body. In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, people even believed that chokers could heal and protect them. A kind of amulet, chokers were commonly worn by pregnant women to call upon the powers of the goddess of childbirth.
Chokers were hugely popular during the French Revolution in the late 1700s. Specifically, red ribbon chokers were worn by French female expatriates as recognition of the many people who died at the guillotine. Black velvet ribbon chokers were worn at this time, too, as a sign of grief and mourning.
Choker necklaces became largely popular in the United States during the 1940s. At this time, these necklaces were worn by many women and were seen to exude disobedience, especially when worn by young girls. This ties back to the prominence of the choker in punk styles in later years.
Today, chokers are an accepted and widely worn variety of jewelry. Instead of belonging to a specific trend or phase, chokers are worn by all different types of people, for all different occasions. Chokers can be both feminine and grungy, formal and casual. This type of necklace now defies classification, which wasn’t always the case throughout its rich and winding history.
Main Features of Choker Necklaces
- Due to the fact that chokers sit high up on the neck, they’re effective at drawing visual attention up to the face. Whereas pendants and types of long necklaces pull the eye further downward, toward the chest, a choker is visible from the shoulders up.
- Chokers have been compared to dog collars, which led to their inclusion in grunge and rebellious attire. Chokers have been worn as part of the punk and rock styles by women and men alike.
- A classic variety of choker is a simple black ribbon, often made of velvet, tied around the neck. This type of choker can be seen in artist Edgar Degas’ infamous ballerina paintings – many of the dancers depicted in these works of art wear elegant black choker necklaces tied around their necks.
- Chokers may be plain or feature embellishments. Because of their limited size, chokers generally only feature small adornments, such as studs, pins, or brooches. Small pendants may also be strung onto chokers for a timeless, sophisticated, and eye-catching look.
While a locket necklace may at first appear quite similar in design to a pendant necklace, it includes a crucial difference. Lockets can be opened to unveil a small compartment. This compartment may be used to carry any number of items that carry personal significance for the wearer.
Lockets date back to the 16th century. The earliest lockets were worn by people of either gender and were often used to hold a small photo of the current ruler. So, early lockets were often worn by those with a deep reverence for the monarchy. Throughout Elizabethan times, lockets were viewed as a form of jewelry for the elite and, as a result, were incredibly expensive. Queen Elizabeth I had an affinity for lockets and not only worn them herself but also gifted them to lucky members of her court.
The majority of the time, lockets are used to hold photographs. The wearer may include a shot of their family, significant other, children, or a beloved friend. You must usually make a special print of a photograph in order for it to fit inside of a locket. The recommended size for a locket photo is about one millimeter smaller than the measurement of your locket. So, be sure to take precise measurements of this necklace type before order your photograph to fit inside the compartment. But, note that it’s easier to cut down on the size of your photo to fit inside the locket, rather than make it larger, so air on the larger size when placing your order.
Putting a lock of hair inside of a locket is an age-old tradition across several different cultures. The tradition of keeping a lock of hair inside of a locket may have begun during the Victorian era. It was a custom in mourning to help those who were grieving hold on to their loved one, even after they were gone. A locket holding a lock of hair was a tangible reminder of the departed.
Keeping hair inside of a locket is not as popular a custom now as it was in previous eras. But, people may still choose to do so with a lock of hair from someone they love, whether that person has passed or is still alive.
Lockets may be constructed to hold multiple photographs. This design typically involves a thin separator, almost like a page in a book, that provides another space (or two) to hold more pictures. In fact, this type of locket can even have enough space to hold four pictures: one on the front side of the inner compartment, two in the center section, and one on the back side of the compartment.
Main Features of Locket Necklaces
- Lockets are made in a huge variety of shapes. Traditional shape options include hearts, spheres, and ovals. Less common locket shapes include squares, flowers, geometric shapes, and even abstract shapes.
- Lockets are typically constructed from solid metals, typically gold or silver.
- Some lockets are unembellished and feature smooth, plain metal. But, this type of necklace may be decorated in any number of ways. A traditional design is engraved metal, which may display elegant curves and swirls, or even someone’s initials. High-end lockets are often embellished using fine jewels, perhaps rubies, emeralds, or sapphires. Less expensive options may feature realistic-looking rhinestones to add a touch of sparkle without the exorbitant price.
- Lockets are typically hung on a thin chain of silver or gold. Lockets have a small metal loop at the top for the chain to be strung through. You may even choose to switch out the chain of a locket so that it falls at the perfect length for you.
Princess necklaces are characterized by a specific length measurement. A comparatively short necklace type, princess necklaces generally measure 17 to 19 inches in length. Princess necklaces are very popular because they’re easy to wear, can be worn with all types of attire, and are appropriate for virtually any occasion.
Princess necklaces may be a great accessory option for business wear. With their limited length, a princess necklace with a small charm provides a professional, understated look while still adding a touch of style. This type of necklace isn’t distracting or overwhelming, so it effectively contributes to an outfit for the office.
Due to their small, accessible size, princess necklaces can be worn by young girls. With a single small charm or rhinestone, a princess necklace may make the perfect gift to add to the small jewelry collection of girls in their pre-teen years.
Main Features of Princess Necklaces
- Princess necklaces fall between the base of the neck and the chest, directing the eye up toward your face. This proportion is flattering for people of just about any height and neck length. This characteristic of princess necklaces may be a reason why they’re such a popular necklace variety.
- Princess necklaces are a common length for pearl necklaces. Princess necklaces made with pearls are a frequently bought necklace type because the length and style is highly versatile. A pearl princess necklace can be seamlessly transitioned from the office to a night out.
- For those seeking to own just a few pieces of jewelry that they’ll wear frequently, a princess necklace with simple embellishments is the most highly recommended option. Nothing can beat a princess necklace when it comes to adaptability a style to flatter any body type.
A matinee necklace is defined by its length and singular chain or cord. More specifically, matinee necklaces typically measure approximately 20 to 24 inches long. This necklace variety sits just above the chest for a classic, elegant look.
Matinee necklaces are most often worn for professional and casual wear. Many matinee necklace styles are streamlined, perhaps with a single charm or embellishment, so they make a fitting accompaniment for business attire. Matinee necklaces aren’t typically worn with formal attire because they tend to draw the eye down, away from the face, and a low-hanging charm may get lost in the design of a dressy top or low neckline.
Matinee necklaces are very flattering and can help to elongate the line of your neck. On most people, the 20 to 24-inch length falls between the collarbone and bust. For women with shorter necks who want to appear longer, a matinee necklace can provide lovely proportions and lengthen the appearance of the neck. This works because the matinee necklace draws the eye downward, away from the neck with a relatively long chain, without being so long that it accentuates the shortness of the neck.
Main Features of Matinee Necklaces
- Matinee necklaces are one of the longest necklace varieties. The long chain is both elegant and unique from other necklace types.
- Since matinee necklaces are long in length, you may layer one with a shorter necklace, perhaps a princess necklace or choker. The layered look is perfect for simple tops and fun, casual outfits.
- Matinee necklaces should generally be worn with simple clothing that isn’t highly embellished. The length of a matinee necklace may fall on top of a shirt, blouse, or the top of a dress. So, if that clothing is already heavily adorned, the necklace may get lost in it.
- Matinee necklaces look fantastic when paired with high collars. Turtlenecks, button-up blouses, and tops with high neckline make this type of necklace stand out against the fabric. This combination is a great way to make your jewelry pop and add visual interest to your outfit.
Opera necklaces, like princess and matinee necklaces, are defined by their length. Typically measuring 26 to 35 inches in length, opera necklaces are significantly longer than matinee necklaces. The additional length provides a few style options for women who choose to wear this type of accessory.
Opera necklaces hang at approximately the same height as your breastbone. This pulls the eyes to your torso, as opposed to your head. When worn in a single, long strand, opera necklaces make a strong visual statement.
Due to their striking length, opera necklaces are most commonly worn with simple, minimall adorned attire. Simple clothing allows the opera necklace to shine and be the star of the outfit. In this sense, opera necklaces are often also considered to be statement necklaces.
Opera necklaces are long enough to be doubled up. When doubled, the strand can either create a loop that sits close to the neck and a loop that hangs low, or two loops of similar lengths. The loops of similar length create a layered look, while the loops of different lengths elongate the neck for an elegant look. When opera necklaces are doubled in this fashion, it may appear that you’re wearing two separate necklaces. Note that opera necklaces are generally only doubled when the strand is consistent all the way through. For example, a pearl opera necklace is quite effective when doubled. But, an opera necklace with a single charm could, when doubled, cause the charm to be positioned in a strange way.
Main Features of Opera Necklaces
- A classic look that many women have sported before is an opera necklace with a solid black dress or gown. A black dress provides a classy, sophisticated background for the opera necklace to stand out on.
- Many opera necklaces fall just about to the bottom of the rib cage for a woman. Women should consider how comfortable they’ll feel with a necklace of this length before selecting an opera necklace for day-to-day wear.
- While you can double up an opera necklace, as mentioned previously, you can also pair one with another type of necklace. For example, wear a long opera necklace with a simple choker for an individual, beatnik-inspired look.
Lariat necklaces are the longest necklace type, measuring more than 40 inches in length. This type of necklace is also defined by its unique closure system. Lariat necklaces provide an uncommon visual effect that can be the focal point of an outfit.
A lariat, from which this type of necklace got its name, is a loop held in place by a specific kind of knot. The knot enables the loop to slide but not come undone – think of the lassos used by cowboys to control their stock. Lariat necklaces are held in place on the neck with a similar system. Unlike other types of necklaces, lariat necklaces don’t have clasps or hook-and-eye closures. You can simply tie this type of necklace in place, or you can use a sliding clasp (included with some lariat necklace designs).
When we look back in history, lariat necklaces were included in the popular costume jewelry of the 1920s. Contrastingly to how lariat necklaces are worn today, they were worn around the back of the body in the 20s – this may make you think of the young women in classic flapper attire that we frequently think of in reference to this time in history. Sautoirs are a related jewelry type that were also worn in the 1920s. This necklace of sorts consisted of long strings of beads that came together with a tassel at the bottom.
Similarly to opera necklaces, lariat necklaces can effectively be doubled up. Given that lariat necklaces are even longer than opera necklaces, you have more doubling options. You can create two layered matinee-length necklaces, or a choker and an opera length necklace, to provide two examples. Doubling a lariat necklace is one way to make this long necklace manageable for daily wear.
Main Features of Lariat Necklaces
- Lariat necklaces may also be referred to as rope necklaces.
- Lariat necklaces must be long to accommodate their unique clasp system. Without plenty of length, you may not be able to tie the necklace around your neck, or the sliding clasp may not function properly.
- Although there are just a handful of traditional ways to wear lariat necklaces, this special jewelry type gives you the freedom to style it in many different ways. For example, you can wrap it like a choker, leaving multiple lengths of strand wrapped around your neck. Or, you can simply wind the strand around your neck a few times, leaving the ends unsecured.
- Lariat necklaces commonly feature prominent loops that double as a convenient way to secure the necklace and a decorative detail.
Lisa has a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Arts. She is an experienced blogger who enjoys researching interesting facts, ideas, products, and other compelling concepts. In addition to writing, she likes photography and Photoshop.