A Guide to necklaces

Posted in Jewelry 101 on June 8, 2020

Welcome to our guide to necklaces, when it comes to choosing a necklace to wear you need to consider if it fits your face shape, body, and your height. Which necklace length fits different outfits? If you’re a first-timer, this can definitely be a daunting task. Or you’d want to perform a classic romantical moment when you put the necklace on to your loved one.

We first cover the history of necklaces, then we’ll move to explain different necklace types. In general, a necklace is a chain of different lengths, valuable metals, or gems. A common style of necklaces is pendant style, where a single diamond, gem, or pearl are dangling from a chain.

Then we will look at how to fit necklaces better. Necklaces have a variety of different heights. Which fit different face shapes? Why your body and height also matters? Best practices to keep in mind when choosing a necklace for your outfit. You will find all this here.

Thumbnail for necklaces article showing three different necklaces being worn by woman

History of necklaces

The historic Greek and Roman period had the most influence on necklace styles. Beadwork styled collars originated from the Egyptian era. Their aim, a decorative and stylistic wearable ornament. The popularity of necklaces spread from region to region.

During the Middle Ages, different pieces of jewelry became more and more common elements of a dress. Late Gothic and early Renaissance periods marked the time when necklaces replaced brooches. A new path was set for necklaces. The more gold heavy chain and the more gemstones on a necklace became a status symbol and wealth indicator.

Style of wearing necklace was following, the lower the neckline on a dress the more necklace was shown. This however was not always the case, as men wore necklaces when necklines were high. This was to show the status symbol this took place during 1500 - 1700. 

During the 18th century, the necklaces were the most important piece of jewelry ornaments. Variable kinds of different jewelry became popular - brooches, earrings, bracelets, pendants, and tiaras. Due to the fashion popularity of court gowns, a matched set of jewelry was mainstream. On the lower neckline, a decolletage was worn while the higher neckline included a pendant or a brooch. This type of matching set lasted about two centuries.

20th century

New materials and new technologies related to mass production, greatly increased necklace fashion and popularity trends. As affordability levels rose up, more jewelry was designed for different occasions, tastes, or preferences. This created a great surge in the jewelry field.

With this certain materials also gained at price. Gold, diamonds, and pearls were perceived as expensive symbols of wealth and are still today. One of the most glamorous and prestigious materials have always been pearls. They were the choice for Roman women, pearls were also loved by the Elizabeth I in the 16th century. Which led to a long pearl trend.

That's a brief overview of the history. Now we will move on with our necklace guide and move to categorize them.

Types of necklace chains

How do we differentiate necklaces? The answer is not that straight, there are too many different necklaces to categorize them all. However, we can start putting them in groups by their chain types. Each chain type can create a distinctive look and style for each necklace. There are numerous interlockings for chains: rings, discs, or beads - which are commonly made by machinery.

Classic chains.

Cable chainCable chain - one of the most classic types of chains. It interlocks together by oval links that are the same size. They often work well with pendants.
Curb chainCurb chain - a trendy urban style. Similar to cable chain but the ovals are curved, thus the chain is able to lay flat.
Marine chainMarine chain - essentially a cable chain which has a horizontal bar across the center. 
Figaro chainFigaro chain - modified curb chain, has links that vary in size. This creates a unique pattern.
Rolo chainRolo chain - almost the same as cable chain but instead of ovals links, ring-like links are used.

Textural chains.

Rope chainRope chain - you guessed it! It resembles a rope while being one of the most popular chain styles. 
Wheat chainWheat chain - every seen a wheat stalks? Of course, you have. The similarity between them is what gives this chain its name.
Bead chainBead chain - generally used for dog tags, a chain made up of ball-shaped links that are connected with by small links that are between them.

Sleek chains

Omega chainOmega chain - has a semi-rigid structure, it’s formed by flat plates which are crimped together. Give a unique look.
Box chainBox chain - composed of squares that are linked together. Gives a smooth box-like structure.
Herringbone chainHerringbone chain - almost like omega chain but plates are v-shaped. Which gives out a fluid-like design. 
Snake chainSnake chain - made from wavy plates, which gives a smooth and round look with a zigzag pattern hence a name.
Mesh chainMesh chain - a luxurious look, pattern that’s formed by chaining together links. 

Necklace lengths guide

There are about eight lengths of necklaces. Each gives out different vibes, the same length might look different on each individual. It’s like choosing glasses to wear, but different frames for each outfit. Most common lengths are the following:

  • Collar - 12-14"
  • Choker - 14-16"
  • Princess - 16-18"
  • Matinee - 20-22"
  • Opera - 30-36"
  • Rope - 36" +

Face shape and necklace lengths

One style does not fit for all, as with and clothing or accessory, you should try to see what matches your posture and features.

Round/Oval - Aim for necklaces that create a v-shape on your neckline. This will lengthen and help the frame of the face. Choose something anywhere between 20” - 24”. 

Square/Oblong - A shorter styled necklace such as a choker or a collar will go well with this shape. It helps to soften the sharper angles on the face, bringing a visual of a longer neck.

Heart-shaped - Almost the same with square/oblong, try shorter necklaces to soften edges. Perhaps ones between 16” - 18”

face shape nacklace guide

Necklaces and body features

It’s also important to match your body length with your necklaces. Often ones that are shorter or taller have a hard time finding the right size. If you are on the shorter side, you may have felt that long necklaces are made too long however on the taller side you might feel that necklaces should be longer. I suggest my friends do the following:

Short (5’4”) - Try to find necklaces that lengthen your frame. Look for necklaces that are 16” - 18” length, it should fit well. If you want to go for longer necklaces try somewhere between 20” - 24”.

Tall (5’7”) - Anything on the longer side will look fabulous, that’s the bonus of height. But you can wear pretty much anything as long as it compliments your face.

Regular Height (5’4” - 5’7”) - You are lucky, any length will go well for you. Don’t forget to choose something that praises your face shape and body type.

Don't be afraid to experiment

Be ferocious because that's the only way you will find your style. Be courageous to try out different things. And that's a wrap. No necklace goes without a pair of earrings, see our earring guide.

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