Different Types of Necklaces
Many different types of necklaces have been popular throughout history, and many of them are still prevalent today. Necklace design has evolved to reflect changing trends and techniques, but many necklaces from the last 200 years still take influence from more antiquated jewellery.
This article discusses eight different types of necklaces, although many more exist. Each of these necklace styles has been popular at one point in time – whether in the 20th century, Victorian times or even earlier – and they still make for popular antique necklaces to this day.
Like choker necklaces, a bib necklace sits high up on the collar bone and can be made from a metal band with layered rows of beads and gemstones. Bib necklaces are often wider at the front and tapered at the back around the neck.
They have been popular throughout time – perhaps most recognised from Ancient Egyptian paintings of pharaohs, while they saw a renaissance in the 20th century, possibly inspired by the Egyptian archaeological discoveries at the Valley of the Kings. In 1947, the (later disgraced) Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, commissioned an amethyst bib necklace from Cartier – known as the Windsor Necklace.
Choker necklaces are short in length and worn closely around the centre of the neck. Often, they are made from a range of materials. For example, in the Georgian and Victorian times, they were most popularly made from a velvet ribbon with a small pendant attached – easy to make at home or if on a budget. Higher class choker necklaces can be made from pearls, gemstone beads or diamonds.
Chokers have been prevalent throughout history; their latest resurgences occurred in the 1940s in the form of dog collars and again during the 1990s grunge era.
Collar necklaces are similar to bib necklaces and chokers, in so far as they are a short length of precious metal that sits close to the neck. Often, they might lack a distinct fastening but have overlapping strands at the back that hold the necklace onto the body, giving a sculptural effect.
Inspired by the necklaces of Ancient Greece, this collar necklace from Fred of Paris is made from steel and 18-carat gold – a stunning modern example of a collar necklace.
A lavalier necklace consists of a delicate chain adorned with a pendant with additional smaller pendants dangling from the main stone. The name is taken from one of Louis XIV’s mistresses in Georgian France – Louise de la Valliere.
This style of necklace came back into fashion between 1900 and 1930, as the delicacy matched the feminine fashions of the era. At this time, Art Nouveau imagery was prevalent in jewellery. This example of an Art Nouveau lavalier shows an intricate cutwork metal pattern on the pendant.
Festoon necklaces consist of multiple drapes of chains, beads or other metal parts to form the design. Made popular in Victorian times by Queen Alexandra of Denmark, these necklaces are impressively crafted, often featuring diamonds, pearls or other precious gemstones like rubies or amethysts.
Later, the Dagmar necklace originally made for Queen Alexandra was eventually bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth II – it contains 2,000 diamonds and 118 pearls set in gold. This example is somewhat more modest but just as beautiful, set with rose-cut diamonds and saltwater pearls.
A sautoir necklace is made of pearls or beads, finished with tassels hanging from each end. Perhaps the most famous sautoir in history is the Cartier necklace made for the Queen of Romania in 1919 – it had a 478-carat sapphire drop.
Riviere necklaces are long – 14-16 inches – strung with faceted gemstones that often graduate in size. They sit gracefully around the decolletage with gems set in individual collets and later in prong or claw settings. Ornate examples have additional gemstones suspended from the main necklace.
Riviere necklaces became popular in Victorian times and remained in fashion until the mid-20th century. This Victorian Amethyst Pearl Riviere Necklace is a stunning example.
Pendants are timeless necklaces that have been popular throughout history right up to the present day. Usually, pendants consist of a delicate chain with a dangling ornament. They are commonly made from precious metals and gemstones or diamonds – but can be made from anything and in any size.
Thousands of years ago, these necklaces were worn as talismans to protect the wearers from harm. Today, they can be used as lockets or to showcase a special stone. This art deco sapphire pendant is a beautiful example.