Necklaces are among the oldest forms of fine jewelry, in no small part because the bead was one of the first objects whose sole purpose was adornment. Early necklaces were strung with beads made out of shells, obsidian, and rocks like carnelian, garnet, and lapis lazuli. Gold was also fashioned into beads for necklaces, and gold wire was wrapped into decorative spirals. In addition to found and mined materials, necklaces also supported glass and ceramic pieces.

While necklaces vary wildly depending on their materials, artistry, and ornamentation, there can be categorized by their construction and length. Open-ended necklaces, which are often strung with beads or tassels, do not have a clasp; instead, their ends are tied together. Chokers fit tightly around the neck and range from 14 inches to 16 inches long. Princess necklaces, the classic string of pearls, are 18 inches long. Matinee necklaces are longer (about 22 inches) while opera necklaces run from 30 to 35 inches long. Necklaces more than 40 inches long are referred to as ropes.

While beads and other objects are often strung on lengths of twine and thread, chains made of metals such as silver are also used. Sometimes lengths of silver links are left unadorned, but more often they are punctuated by beads and pendants, whose shapes often repeat, frequently in graduated sizes. Necklaces can have single or multiple strands of chain.

Some of the most famous necklaces are the ones worn by royalty and movie stars, for whom money was no object. For example, the Duchess of Windsor was a very good client of Cartier in Paris, which made ruby-and-diamond necklaces for her, as well as rich strands dripping with emeralds and bib necklaces weighed down by diamonds and amethysts. Joan Crawford, who was also known for her fondness for costume jewelry, fancied pearls, while Merle Oberon made a Van Cleef & Arpels necklace of graduated turquoise (each stone was surrounded by a ring of diamonds) famous in the movie “Hotel.”


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s JewelHistory blog have been treated to her weekly (sometim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Italian 5.80ct Diamond South Sea Pearl 18k Gold Choker Necklace 67.0 Grams NrVintage 14k White Gold 39.05ctw Diamond/cushion Cut Amethyst Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Blue Guilloche Enamel Locket NecklaceNatural 10.50ct Aaa Muzo Colombian Emerald Colorless Diamond 14k Gold NecklaceAntique Art Deo White Gold And Jade Chinese NecklaceEstate 6.47ct Diamond 14k Gold Choker Necklace 25.2 Grams NrCartier 18ct Gold Chain 750 Signed & Numbered & Tri Colored Gold Rings NecklaceCertified Natural 16.5cts Vs G Diamond Emerald 18k Solid Gold Riviera NecklaceHuge Antique Chinese 287 Grams Real Natural Undyed Coral Trade Beads NecklaceAntique Deco Diamond 14k Gold Pendant Necklace NrVintage Angel Skin Coral Necklace Graduated 6.5mm-13.5mm 21" LongRare Chinese Natural Coral (not Dyed) Necklace Huge Antique / VintageBeautiful Antique Solid Silver Book Chain Collar Locket Necklace 59.56gAntique Natural Baltic Opaque Butterscotch Amber Bead Necklace 35.6 GramsVintage Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Baltic Amber Bead Necklace 23.5 Grams Vintage Meka Denmark Sterling Silver Guilloche Enamel Heart NecklaceEstate 1.58ct Diamond 14k Gold Filigree Drop Necklace 12.1 Grams NrVintage 14ct Gold Single Row Pearl NecklaceFine Sterling Silver And Moonstone Chandeiler Necklace Authentic Chanel Blue Glass Stone Faux Pearl Gold Tone Runaway Designer NecklaceVintage Chinese Antique Jadeite Jade Angel Skin Red Coral Hand Carved Necklace Estate 35.00ct Green Emerald 14k Gold Bead Necklace 8.4 Grams NrVintage Norway Aksel Holmsen Sterling Blue Guilloche Enamel Orchids Necklace SetAntique Georgian Riveted Cut Steel NecklaceVintage Estate Natural Pacific Pink Coral Bead Necklace 14k Solid Gold ClaspArt Deco Masterpiece 3.00ct Colorless Diamond Akoya Pearl Platinum NecklaceNew York 1.00ct Colorless Diamond 18k Gold Filigree Locket Pendant NecklaceVintage Old Antique Baltic Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Bead Necklace 51.5 GramsRare Real Antique Coral Necklace Salmon Red Natural Gold Clasp Bead VictorianVintage Natural Imperial Green Jadeite Jade 14k Yellow Gold Floral NecklaceFine Vintage Estate Graduated Pearl Necklace 14k Solid White Gold Sapphire ClaspAntique 18k Gold Bar Necklace 32.0 Grams NrAntique French Victorian 18ct Gold Chain Necklace - Pendant Pair Of SwallowsAuthentic Vintage Mikimoto Graduated Double Strand Pearl Necklace Silver ClaspVintage Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Baltic Amber Bead Necklace 38.6 Grams Chinese Antique Carved Bone Bead Necklace Circa 1900 - 40 Beads - 149 GramsVintage Cherry Amber Bakelite Bead Necklace 20.5"Antique Amber Necklace 153gramsVintage Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Baltic Amber Bead Necklace 29.2 Grams Victorian Whitby Jet Carved Rose Bud Necklace 17.5 Inch Circa 1880 No ReserveRare Antique Victorian 9ct Rose Gold Lozenge&ball Fancy Link Necklace Circa 1880Vintage Jade And 14k Yellow Gold Necklace By Ming's Of Honolulu 21" Long Estate Diamond 18k Gold Square Chain Pendant Necklace Nr34.6g Antique Butterscotch Honey Baltic Amber Egg Yolk Beads Necklace MalaEstate 11.20 Mm Natural South Sea Tahitian Pearl 14k White Gold Necklace JewelryVintage Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Baltic Amber Bead Necklace 26.2 Grams Vtg Gumps Double Strand Keshi Baroque Pearl Necklace W/ Carved Jadeite Clasp 14kAntique 9ct Gold Belcher Link Chain NecklaceVintage Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Baltic Amber Bead Necklace 22.5 Grams Genuine Butterscotch Amber Bracelet Baltic Large Handwork Vintage Beads NecklaceVintage 925 Sterling Silver Pearl Heart Pendant Charm Necklace14kt Yellow Solid Gold Bail Enhancer 8x6mm Snap Closure Necklace Pendant Charm Vtg Salt Water Cultured Akoya 5-5.5 Mm White Pearl 22" Necklace 14k White GoldNatural Old Antique Butterscotch Egg Yolk Baltic Oval Amber Necklace 65.80 Gr. $19,999 Victorian 14k Gold/sterling 45.00ct Fancy Rose Cut Diamond Necklace 112g14k Yellow Gold .94mm Rope Chain Necklace 3.2g Vintage 20 1/4" Estate AntiqueHeavy Victorian Silver Locket Collar Necklace, Book Chain, 36gr.Stunning 27 Point Diamond 14ct White Gold Pendant NecklaceAntique Arts And Crafts Sterling Silver And Lapiz Lazuli Necklace Vintage 14k Deep Pink Angel Skin Coral 5.5-12.5 Mm Graduated Bead 19" Necklace