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    

Original Art Nouveau Silver & Enamel Egyptian Revival Scarab Beetle NecklaceLot Victorian Art Nouveau 14k 10k 9k Gold Garnet Ruby Pearl Aquamarine NecklacesVintage Mikimoto Special Order Necklace 32" 9mm 18kt Aa QualityLarge Lot Victorian Antique Shell Silver Gold Cameo Brooch Necklace BraceletEstate Lot 3 Fine Chinese 14k Gold Carved Jade Jadeite Fu Lion Bead NecklacesMassive Antique 154.0 Gram Chinese Ivory Coloured 40 Inch Carved Bead Necklace Gargantuan Estate Lot Pearl Stone Amber Agate Jade Necklace Brooches Pins+++Vintage Victorian Pearl Heart Pendant Necklace Signed G9ct Antique Gold ?Estate Lot Chinese Cinnabar Lacquer Pearl Ruby Coral Ring Bracelets NecklaceArt Nouveau Marius Hammer Silver Gilt Enamel Norwegian Ornate Necklace LavaliereVtg Victorian Rose Cut Bohemian Garnet & Emerald Cab Necklace * Rare * Dangling Vintage 14k Yellow Gold Natural Green Button Jadeite Jade Necklace - 15.25" Vintage Estate Gray Baroque Pearl NecklaceAntique Victorian Circa 1890 9 Ct Gold Scottish Agate Pebble Necklace Brooch**antique Edwardian 9k 9ct 15ct Gold Amethyst Pendant Necklace C1910**Exquisite Antique Chinese Carved Genuine Salmon Color Coral Necklace 14k ClaspRare Long Real Antique Coral Necklace Salmon Red Natural 14k Gold Clasp VintageAntique Edwardian 9ct Solid Rose Gold & Amethyst Pendant NecklaceBeautiful Art Nouveau 9ct Rose Gold Necklace Pendant Set With Garnets StonesRare Antique Butterscotch Egg Yolk Natural Baltic Amber Beads Necklace 58 GrVictorian Whitby Jet Faceted Snake Bracelet 1880s Serpent Necklace No ReserveVintage Chinese Antique Natural Grade A Jadeite Red Coral Carved Necklace Vintage Mikimoto Necklace With Center Pendant 17" 8.25mm A++ QualityAntique 14k Yg & Pink Coral Cameo & Rose Necklace Superb Quality & Condition Nr Antique Victorian 14k Y Gold Picture Locket Glass Cover Etruscan For NecklaceVintage Mikimoto 6mm Pearl Necklace W/ 14k White Gold Clasp * 18" Long * 25gAntique 19 Century Genuine Seed Pearl Necklace In Original CaseAntique Whitby Jet Carved Rose Bud Necklace 50+ Loose Beads 30 Inch Circa 1Fine Sterling Silver Chandelier Moonstone NecklaceRare Long Real Antique Coral Necklace Salmon Red Natural Victorian Beads Gold Vintage C 1930's Art Deco Sterling Silver Scottish Moss Agate Necklace BroochVintage Sterling Silver - Heavy 13mm Bead Chains 201.6g - Necklace (18") Gq415Estate 15.49 Carat Natural Si1 Diamond Tennis Cocktail Necklace 18k White GoldScottish Antique Victorian Banded Agate Bead NecklaceRare Long Real Antique Coral Necklace Salmon Red Natural Victorian Double RowAntique Skyscraper Art Deco Chrysoprase~sterling & Marcasite Necklace~hallmarkedFine Heavy Victorian 30 Carat Citrine Gold NecklaceVery Chunky Antique Natural Dark Salmon Coral Bead Necklace 23" Weigh 36 Grams925 Silver Gold Aventurine Opal Green Modernist Pendant Necklace Chain AntiqueAntique Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Beads Necklace 40,1 Gr.Antique Angel Skin Coral Beads Platinum Diamond Clasp Vintage 30 Inch Necklace14k Solid Gold Necklace. Diamond Chain. 5 Clean Diamonds. Vintage? 17inch. WatchFine Heavy 18ct Gold Necklace1920s Deco Gatsby Era Filigree Camphor Sterling 2tone Gold Necklace Not ScrapExquisite Vintage Bold 29" Chinese Pink/salmon Coral Bead Necklace-gorgeous! Nr!1 Ct Natural Pave Diamond Necklace Pendant 18k White Solid GoldFine Victorian Art Nouveau Opal Gold NecklaceTiffany & Co Elsa Peretti Pendant Necklace 18 Karat Gold Diamonds Open Heart NrAntique 9ct Rose Gold Almondine Garnet & Seed Pearl Set Necklace Pendant C. 1895Antique 9ct Gold Chain NecklaceVintage Antique Victorian 10kt Yellow Gold Moonstone? Fancy Necklace 16.5" Nice 66gram Antique 100% Genuine Natural Coral Necklace Set Coral Bracelet 14k Gold 53gram Old Coral Beads Antique 100% Genuine Natural Coral Beads Necklace Estate Lot Chinese 10k Gold Orange Coral Rose Quartz Pearl Bead NecklacesHuge Antique Chinese 287 Grams Real Natural Undyed Coral Trade Beads NecklaceVery Fine 24" Double Strand 8mm Cultured Akoya Pearl Necklace~big 14k Gold ClaspEstate Lot 3 Chinese Carved Coral Bird Figural Cinnabar Olive Nut Necklaces14kt Solid Yellow Gold Natural Angel Skin Chinese Coral Necklace Pendant CarvedAntique Victorian 14k Gold Fill Book Chain Bookchain Cameo Pendant NecklaceAntique Genuine Natural Egg Yolk & Butterscotch Baltic Amber Bead Necklace~115 G