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Radley Stories

Style Notes

Buying a Necklace: How Do I Pick the Right Necklace?

30 March 2022

From simple, dainty chains to chunky, overlapping pendants, designer necklaces for her can come in many different styles. With traditional, subtle designs most likely to be crafted in pure or plated gold, silver or rose gold metals, bolder and brighter necklaces might instead feature beaded details, acrylic adornments or even feather trims. Designed to rest on the décolletage, trendy necklaces can also come in various lengths. One of the most popular styles of jewellery, necklaces are always simple and elegant to wear. 

The History of the Necklace

The first necklace ever made is believed to have been crafted with materials that could be found, such as shells, stones and even teeth and bone fragments. It’s thought necklaces were quickly adopted by tribes and interpreted in many different ways to reflect different beliefs. Some necklaces date back to as early as 1800-1500BC, such as the ancient Celtic necklace – the torque, which was crafted in twisted metal – was created. 

Globally, necklaces grew in popularity with each country developing their own cultural variations. In ancient Rome, classic metal necklaces were popular, which was vastly different to ancient Egypt, where necklaces were made with hundreds of colourful beads and layered to create intricate collars. 

The necklace continued to change as a way to reflect the styles of each time period. Initially worn only by upper-class women, necklaces were a symbol of status and wealth as they were made from quality materials and precious stones. This changed during the 20th century when pieces began to be made with coated metals and plastics, meaning buying a necklace was more affordable and leading to a rise in popularity for fashion necklaces and designer fashion jewellery.

Different Necklace Lengths

Collar: Shorter necklaces that sit no lower than the collarbone.

Choker: A short trendy necklace that fastens around the neck without dangling or resting on the collarbone or décolletage. 

Princess: Sits just below the collarbone and commonly features a single pendant. It’s one of the most popular styles chosen today. 

Matinee: Sits somewhere between the bust and the collarbone.

Opera: A beautiful necklace style that drapes below the wearer’s bust for a classic and elegant look. 

Rope: The longest style, the rope necklace can drape all the way down to the wearer’s waist. It doesn’t feature a clasp and is just slipped on over the head.

Do Men Wear Necklaces?

In the past, men wore necklaces to signify status and identify them as the leader of the tribe, but over time, it became less and less common for men to wear necklaces. This trend is now reversing with modern necklaces becoming a popular choice for all genders. 

A popular necklace for men is the classic gold or silver chain. These are often worn beneath T-shirts and sweatshirts, where they are not easily visible. Among hip-hop culture, men may wear designer fashion jewellery which is often bulkier and bolder, and perhaps finished with pendant details or expensive gems. While simple chains are worn for the wearer’s own knowledge and enjoyment, these eye-catching pendant alternatives are worn as a symbol of status and wealth. 

Long necklaces are also a favourite among men. Worn over clothing and often finished with a pendant or layered with other designs, these styles are worn for a laid-back, creative look.

Necklace Trends 

Two of the most popular necklaces for her are the diamond necklace and the pearl necklace. A silver or gold fashion necklace with diamonds is always highly sought after for its exquisite, sparkling look, while the pearl necklace is a more sophisticated and elegant piece that is often chosen for formal or special occasions.

Jewellery trends often grow out of fashion trends, either as a way to mirror the season’s styles or to complement them. For example, when V-neck dresses became popular, longer necklaces rose in popularity whereas when the neckline was high, the choker necklace emerged. However, despite emerging and changing trends, diamond and pearl styles have remained popular throughout every decade and are still chosen today when consumers are buying a necklace.

Popular Necklace Styles

Bib necklace: One of the first styles created and still chosen today, the bib necklace is typically a princess length with a wide front that sits just below the neckline. It is often very ornately decorated with pearls, beads or even gems for special occasions. 

Festoon necklace: This beautiful necklace comprises a series of chains to create a highly decorative piece. Very popular during the Victorian era, the festoon necklace is likely to be decorated with gemstones and pearls. 

Graduated necklace: Crafted with multiple-sized beads or pearls, where the largest is typically placed in the centre with the smaller graduating in size at either side.  

Lavaliere necklace: A feminine style with a delicate or encrusted chain and a draping, focal pendant at its centre – often adorned with a large gem. The lavaliere necklace is very opulent and most often chosen for special occasions. 

Locket or pendant necklace: A dainty chain style with a hanging pendant or locket at the centre. Pendants can come in various shapes, sizes and metals, and might be engraved or decorated. 

Multi-Strand necklace: Composed of multiple strands all connected to a single fastening. A popular style of modern designer fashion jewellery, layered pieces make trendy necklaces that are commonly worn today with casual, daily outfits. 

Negligee necklace: Originating in the 19th century, the negligee necklace is crafted with a long, delicate chain and features two suspended pendants that drop to different lengths. 

Rivière necklace: A short necklace that dates back to the late 17th century and features faceted gems or rhinestones. 

Sautoir necklace: A very long necklace with an ornamental pendant, often in the form of a tassel. These necklaces gained popularity during the 20th century. 

How Do I Pick the Right Necklace?

When buying a necklace for yourself or browsing necklaces for her, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration. As well as the look and style, it can also help to think about what type will best suit the wearer.

How to Pick a Necklace Length

The chosen length of a necklace might depend on the type of neckline most often worn – for example, styles such as matinee necklaces, which sit between the bust and the collarbone, are better suited to high necklines. You may also choose certain beautiful necklaces depending on your features; choker necklaces are often a flattering option for those with longer, slender necks, while longer necklaces complement those with shorter necks by creating a subtly elongated effect.

Matching Your Face Shape

Face shape can be a determining factor when choosing between certain necklines and designer fashion jewellery, and necklaces are no exception. For those with round faces, a longer silver or gold fashion necklace will be more flattering as it elongates the face, while a trendy necklace like a choker best suits those with oval, square and heart-shaped faces.

Coordinating with Your Wardrobe

Picking a necklace style and length will certainly depend on your outfit. For everyday looks, a minimal, pendant or locket necklace brings classic style and timelessness, or, inspired by modern trends, layered fashion necklaces are also a popular choice. For special occasions, a statement necklace or decorative embellished option adds to the level of sophisticated and glamour. 

Radley London Necklaces

Now you know how to pick the right necklace for you, it’s the perfect time to shop necklaces for her at Radley London.

You can also discover the history behind other accessories over at Radley Stories