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    

Authentic! Van Cleef & Arpels 18k Gold Turquoise Vintage Alhambra Long NecklaceAntique Genuine Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Bead Necklace - 42 GramsVintage Art Deco Pools Of Light Rock Crystal Sterling Silver NecklaceAntique Chinese Carved Octopus Jade Pendant Necklace Gilded Silver Antique Georgian 18k Gold Emerald Paste Riviere NecklaceAn Impressive Big Beaded & Rare Mid C19th Victorian Era Natural Coral Necklace.Antique Edwardian 9ct Solid Gold Moonstone,peridot & Pearl Necklace,16" Long.Vtg 1950's Japanese Sterling Silver Open Back Crystal Large Japan NecklaceAntique Baltic Amber Butterscotch Egg Yolk Necklace W/ Sterling ClaspFine Multiple Row Cultured Pearl Necklace An Antique Mid C19th Century Victorian Natural Coral Necklace. For Re-stringing.Genuine Art Deco 35" Cherry Amber Bakelite Graduated Bead Necklace 83gr Vintage Vintage Designer 1.69ctw Natural Heart Shaped Diamond Platinum Pendant NecklaceVtg Antique Georgian Victorian Large Silver Clear Paste Pendant Vtg Antique Victorian Bohemian Rose Cut Garnet Cluster Drop NecklaceGorgeous Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Necklace 31 GramsMayors Birks 4.00ctw Colorless Diamond Baguette 18k Gold Leaf Pendant Necklace Estate Diamond 82.29ct Blue Topaz 14k Gold Pendant Necklace 62.0 Grams NrMikimoto Pearl Necklace Box Designer Vintage Antique 18 Long Fine Huge 8.75 MmVtg Chinese Pink Angel Skin Coral Graduated 12.5mm 9mm Bead Strand Necklace DbrBeautiful Edwardian Moonstone And Silver Fringe Necklace$99-vintage Platinum 16.15ctw E-vvs1 Diamond Tennis Necklace $125,400 CertifiedFine & Very Heavy Long Victorian Gold Large NecklaceVintage Deco 30's 14k Y&r Gold 2.02 Ctw Blue Zircon Lavalier Pendant NecklaceAntique Style 9ct Gold Blue Opal Teardrop Diamond Set Lavalier Pendant NecklaceAntique Victorian10k Gold Natural Seed Pearl& Diamond Lavalier Pendent Necklace Vintage Old Antique Baltic Butterscotch Amber Graduated Beads Necklace 52.9gRare Antique Victorian 14k Gold Enamel Selene Moon Goddess Locket NecklaceVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Cherry Red Amber Tested Bead Necklace 49.7gAntique Vintage Cherry Amber Bakelite Beads Necklace 65 Grams. 31".Vintage Baltic Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Bead Necklace 43.5 Grams Art DecoGorgeous Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Necklace 45 GramsAntique Vintage Cherry Amber Bakelite Beads Necklace 51.3gAntique Victorian Estate Sterling Silver Necklace Filigree Lavalier Pendant NrVictorian 9ct Gold Chain Necklace 18 InchesAntique C1910 Edwardian Double Strand Real Coral Bead Necklace 67.5cmor 26.6"Estate 18k Gold Snake Chain Necklace 9.1 Grams Nr$4500 Awesome 14k Yellow Gold 3.5ctw Natural Si/hi Diamond Necklace 19.2 16"lAntique "art Nouveau(?) Sterling Guilloche Enamel Necklace W/pearl Drop$13,995 Victorian 14k Gold/sterling 17.50ctw Fancy Rose Cut Diamond Necklace 49gAntique Natural Butterscotch Egg Yolk Amber Beads Baltic Amber Necklace 43 Grams14k Gold Natural Trillion Aaa Tanzanite & Diamond Pendant / Necklace Vtg Gia 6.15ct Natural Green Emerald 14k Gold Diamond 18k Gold Chain Necklace Cxl197Antique Victorian Scottish Agate Pendant Book Chain Sterling Silver NecklaceAntique C 1860 Victorian 14k Rose Gold Carved Salmon Coral Cameo Estate NecklaceDelicate Antique Victorian 14k Amethyst And Dangling Seed Pearl Pendant NecklaceVtg Genuine Long Antique Victorian Whitby Jet Bead Mourning NecklaceAntique Deco 18k White Gold Santa Maria Aquamarine Diamond Necklace Pendant!Tiffany & Co. 13.7mm Golden South Seas Pearl 18k Gold Necklace Pendant SetFine Blue Topaz & Diamond Gold NecklaceVtg Fine Antique Edwardian Chinese Carved Cow Bone Dieppe Two Pairs Of CufflinksEstate 0.51ct Solitaire Diamond Platinum Chain Pendant Necklace NrVictorian 9ct Gold Chain Necklace 20 InchesVintage 18k Yellow Gold Mikimoto Pearl Necklace ~ 5 X 5.5 Mm 'a' PearlsTiffany & Co Atlas Medallion .25ctw Diamond 18k White Gold Pendant Necklace Set4.88ct 14k Gold Natural Green Brazilian Emerald & Diamond Necklace Vtg Antique Chinese Vivid Salmon Coral Carved Fruit Salad Lavaliere Pendant NecklaceAntique Victorian Natural Coral And Crystal Bead Necklace.Vintage Sterling Silver Suarti Long Snake Chain Necklace 24" Long #4n3***edwardian Natural Old Antique 9ct Gold Baltic Amber Bead Necklace C1910***