Do you know your negligees from your collars? Your opera from your lariat? Your bib from your choker? No? It’s time to take note.
For centuries now, necklaces have graced the necks of women as a beautiful accessory to mesmerise their onlookers as an expression of fine jewellery craftsmanship and personal style. Seductively drawing attention to the collar bone, a necklace often sits as the last missing piece in an outfit’s puzzle, completing a look and bringing it from bathroom rug to red carpet ready.
And yet, it’s easier said than done. With a vast array of stones, cuts, and styles to choose from, picking a necklace to wear for the day can often feel overwhelming. Which length is appropriate? Which stone fits best? And is stacking ever okay?
Bringing you a carat crash course in jewellery, we’ve put together the nine quintessential types of necklaces every lady should have in her jewellery box. From high fashion gala to hanging with the homies, there’s a piece for every mood and occasion here. Prepare your treasure chest, it’s about to get a whole lot more full (and fabulous).
Beginning our list with a relatively easy one to decipher, the long necklace normally consists of a single chain of about 75cm, falling between the lower bust and the bellybutton. Long necklaces such as the opera or rope type have a bit of a vintage flair and flirtatious charm, easily stackable or worn alone to jazz up an everyday outfit. For those who like a versatile piece, definitely opt for a lariat long necklace. These consist of a single long strand with no clasp, allowing the chain to be draped, twisted, looped, or even knotted in endless ways. A jewellery box staple that will seldom be inappropriate, and unlikely go out of style. Very Roaring Twenties.
Why wear one necklace when you can wear several all at once? That must have been the thought of the creator of the multi-strand necklace, whereby multiple strands are connected by one single (often beautifully adorned) enclosure. A glamorous step up from a regular necklace, these are often made with pearls or other beads, and can vary from collar to longer lengths. Unlike stacked necklaces, the strands lay flat in this design, boasting a more put-together look. Fun fact: Audrey Hepburn wore a multi-strand pearl and diamond collar necklace in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Enough said.
A pendant necklace is one of the most common types of necklaces on the market, consisting of a central component dangling as the focal point of a chain. These can range from precious gems or birthstones to lockets and charms, drawing the eye and attention to the subtle star of the piece. Soft and delicate, pendant necklaces are very classic and elegant, and can be worn well with a plunging deep neckline at an event, or casually as an everyday staple. Shorter versions also make for sweet and memorable gifts. Why? Because the wearer will always wear the pendant close to the heart.
Choker or Collar Necklace
Contrary to popular belief, chokers are not just something trendy teenagers are wearing at the moment. Chokers and collar necklaces have actually been around for a very long time, and are suited to both casual and formal affairs. The difference between them lies in their closeness to the neck or collar bone, with chokers generally shorter and fitted on the neck, and collar necklaces gracing the end of it. Delicate or chunky, they can be made from a range of materials, from smooth velvet to precious metals. Some feature a pendant at their centre, whilst others boast simpler designs. Great with almost any neckline from V-neck to turtle neck or even off the shoulder, choker and collar necklaces can be worn alone or stacked with a long necklace, too.
There’s no catch here. As its name suggests, a bib necklace sits on the chest like a bib, often covering the entire breastbone. It features bold colours and geometric designs, and is normally the same length as a collar or princess necklace. A wide front portion makes up the ‘bib’ as the central attraction, held together by a thin chain. Ideal for those who like to have fun with their jewellery and really let it speak volumes, a bib necklace is very often a statement necklace, too.
You probably know charm bracelets, but did you know that charm necklaces are very much a thing too? Thought to bring about good luck or capture a personal memory, the necklaces that bear their roots in talisman culture offer a playful alternative to the classic long necklaces or pendants. Allowing for a high level of personalisation, there’s something very delicate and warm about them, as they mark its wearer’s character and light-hearted style. For an evolution of the look that is very much on trend right now, opt for a coin jewellery necklace. Worn alone as a pendant or stacked with others in varying lengths, it’s a great look for open-neck dresses and shirts.
If there is one thing a statement necklace demands, it is this: attention. Known for their big and bold designs, statement necklaces are difficult to wear in comparison to most other types of jewellery, but bring in a standing ovation in style points when done right. Quite often chunky and heavy, the whole point of the statement necklace is for it to never go unnoticed. It can make (but at times also break) an entire outfit. Made from a range of different materials, a statement necklace can vary in size, but is most commonly at collar length. Whilst certainly not suitable for everyday wear, consider it the Ferrari parked in the garage behind the Range Rover. You wouldn’t take it out every day for a quick grocery shop stop. Ah, but when you do…
The princess necklace bears not only a beautiful name, but often entails a piece fit for a fairytale, too. Measuring at around 45cm in length, princess necklaces are noted for being one of the most flattering pieces for a woman to wear, given their graceful positioning on the collar bone. Classic and elegant, this kind of necklace is most commonly adorned with precious gemstones, often times with slender vintage shapes, and a single seductive drop point. The sartorial version of a cherry on top of your ball gown at an evening soiree, here’s a piece that will always be timeless (and essential, if you like parties).
Whilst at first the term ‘negligee’ may ring bells as a filmy form of women’s light dressing gown, it is too the name given to a specific type of long necklace, originating from the early 19th century. Perhaps even pairing quite well with a night gown, this type of necklace is characterised by two asymmetrical drops that connect to the main chain via a central pendant. A kind of long necklace, these are often found with tassels (as on trend in the Edwardian era as they are right now), and boast an air of royalty, romance, and absolute femininity.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok on 28 November 2018.