Jewelry has an extensive history. One of the oldest pieces dates back about 75,000 years. Some of the earliest jewelry was made out of string and decorated with shells and stone.
Since it's development, jewelry contains plenty of symbolism.
Necklaces, for example, exist in different mediums. Tribal necklaces were used to tell stories and display cultural affiliation.
Other styles have religious sentiments, such as rosary beads of the Catholic faith, or chains that display the cross.
Some necklaces are used to portray wealth.
Most commonly though, necklaces have been and are still used as statement pieces that accent our wardrobes.
Keep reading for an overview of necklaces as well as different types of necklaces and tips for how to pick the right one for every occasion.
The foundation provides the structure for the piece of jewelry that wraps around your neck. Three popular necklace foundations are chain, cord, and beads.
A chain is made of metal, primarily platinum, silver, or gold, but other forms are becoming more popular. The chains can vary in style and width.
Cords, often made of silk, are used for stringing necklaces with stones or beads. Generally, thicker cords are needed to support heavier materials.
Third and final are beaded foundations. Rather than be a string that supports a decoration, beads intend to highlight a specific material. A pearl necklace is the perfect example of a beaded necklace foundation.
This component of the necklace references how the necklace attaches or comes together. Some necklaces are tied, but others come with clasps at either end.
The type of clasp on a necklace should match its style and value.
A more expensive necklace should have a clasp of higher-quality metal and greater strength.
Any kind of gem or stone that draws attention to the necklace can be considered the decoration. Some decoration appears more subtle, and blends in with the chain.
Other necklaces can be characterized by pendants that are larger and hang at the base of the chain.
Types of Necklaces
After discussing necklace history and necklace components, we can discuss necklace styles. Below are seven of the more common necklace types, their length, and placement, as well as some helpful tips for pairing them with the perfect outfit.
The collar is worn tightly around the neck and is the shortest in length, ranging from 12 to 14 inches.
This is perfect for an elegant occasion and would pair best with a low neckline or strapless attire.
This style, as well as the next, is especially flattering for women with thinner necks.
The choker, a popular piece in the '90s, is about 16 inches in length. It falls lower than the collar closer to the base of the neck. The best choker will feel snug, but still loose enough that it can be easily moved and adjusted.
This is the perfect piece to compliment your neckline because it can be worn with almost anything.
To add a bit of fun or color to daily wear, try layering several thin chokers.
For a killer evening look, I'd recommend one choker of a thicker width, which will appear as more of a statement piece.
Finding the right earrings can be an obstacle with collars and chokers. Longer earrings can be done tastefully, but too long and they risk touching your necklace or muting the overall look.
Resembling a baby's bib, the bib necklace covers the chest with varying lengths.
Due to the amount of coverage, you have to be careful to pair this necklace with the right outfit.
I'd suggest wearing this necklace with something off the shoulder, strapless, or as a compliment for a deep neckline. Additionally, it can be paired with a simple top to add a pop of color or elevate a casual look.
Bib necklaces are statement pieces. When pairing it with other jewelry, stay away from big, bold earrings as they can make your look appear over the top.
The princess necklace falls between 16 and 18 inches in length and lays along the collarbone. This is the most common length, and therefore can be used for every kind of occasion.
When pairing a princess style with a top, make sure that the necklace falls above or below the collar.
However, for a princess with a more prominent stone or pendant, I'd recommend strapless or tops with a v-neck or open neckline. This will bring more attention to jewelry.
The matinee is 20 to 22 inches and rests at the bust line.
It is best to avoid wearing any clothing style that shares a neckline with your necklace so that they aren't competing for the same space.
For example, pairing a matinee with a strapless dress may look awkward. Their placement overlaps and neither will stand out.
Finding the right necklace for your ensemble is as important as finding the right necklace for your neckline.
Instead, try wearing the matinee with simple tops that have a higher neckline, such as a button-down or a turtleneck.
This necklace type is a great choice for accessorizing business wear.
Now we'll make a transition to necklace types that are much longer.
Long necklaces can accentuate tall-frames. Alternatively, they can negatively accentuate a woman that is shorter or more petite.
The opera is 30 to 36 inches long and will fall below the chest and above the belly button.
This length is especially flattering for tall-frames, plus-sized women, or to highlight the bust.
These necklaces can complement formal wear or act as the primary accessory for something more casual, like a dress or leggings and a flowy top.
The rope style is known for its length and its minimum starts at 36 inches.
This necklace style is incredibly versatile, as it gives the wearer the option to wrap around the neck multiple times. Additionally, it can be paired with other necklaces of varying lengths to provide a layering effect.
This is an elegant style and is often recommended for formal wear.
A variation of the rope necklace is also known as the lariat, which resembles a scarf. It wraps around the neck and then will have a single strand that falls down the middle of the chest.
These longer necklace styles are the perfect accessory to flatter your curves.
There are many types of necklaces for many types of occasions.
If you're looking to stock your jewelry box with any of the above-mentioned styles, or some other body jewelry, start shopping here!