Necklaces started out as wide ornaments made from metals meant to protect your neck from direct harm. These days, they are primarily used as fashionable accents. And even though most people see neckpieces as a single style of jewelry, they have different categorizations and designs within themselves that are fit for particular occasions and meant to be worn a certain way. This week, we break down different styles, lengths and designs of necklaces and how you can style each one.
In ancient times, all necklaces were called collars but throughout the years, people have given this name to those necklaces that fit snugly around the bottom of your neck (not to be confused with chokers which are relatively more thin and sleek). Like the name suggests, modern-day collar necklaces resemble shirt collars. They are mostly thick and mostly decorated with gemstones. They look great when worn with off-shoulder tops, spaghetti strap dresses, square neckline t-shirts or anything that exposes your shoulders and neck.
Generally, you can identify a neck piece as a princess necklace either by its length or its design. Most princess necklaces have a diameter of around 18 inches. This length is universally considered one of the most flattering lengths for necklaces. These necklaces sit right below your collar bones are almost always jewel encrusted with a dramatic central drop featuring a big jewel. Princess necklaces are staple party/occasion wears as they make you look very elegant and sophisticated. You can style them either by themselves or with a pair of matching earrings and bracelet. Princess necklaces are generally not used while layering necklaces.
Choker necklaces have made a big comeback in the last decade and virtually everyone knows what they are. They are generally thin neck straps—traditionally made from precious metals but these days they are made in everything from velvet and lace to plastic—that closely encase your neck. Because these come in a variety of styles and designs, you can use them casually as well as when you’re dressing fancy. They look great with low cut, off shoulder, square neck or spaghetti strap tops. Although chokers look great by themselves, you can also layer them with other longer necklaces for a more elegant look.
Any necklace that is between 24 to 36 inch in diameter can be called an opera necklace.
These necklaces usually hang right around your bust but some of the longer ones can drop as low as your belly buttons. Because they are unusually long and get stuck on other things frequently, they aren’t worn in casual settings. They can be great occasion wear accessories if you know how to style them the right way. Like matinees, these necklaces look nice when they are layered with other shorter necklaces. Pairing them with high collar or neck tops will also look very flattering.
Bib necklaces are heavy and wide necklaces that are of collar or princess length and sit just below your collar bones. These necklaces are characterized by their wide front section that is decorated with a lot of stones, and small pieces of precious metals shaped in a number of ways. Bib necklaces are key jewelry pieces in a lot of cultures around the world and the overall style of these necklaces differ according to cultures. Most modern renditions of these necklaces have a bohemian look and are generally worn by themselves as statement pieces.
Rivière necklaces are typically made from an assortment of jewels—in the same or complimentary color family/shade—and have a shorter diameter. They sit around or just below your collar bones. Most commonly, rivière necklaces have two joint rows of stones but you can also find ones with a single or multiple (more than two) rows of stones. These necklaces are ideal for a fancy setting and should be styled with low cut neck designs. These necklaces generally come in a set comprising other accessories like a pair of earrings, bracelets, rings and headpieces.
Pendants are one of the most popular and commonly used neck pieces among all cultures. Although they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they are generally characterized by the loose long chain—either opera or princess length—with a piece of jewelry hanging from the center. This central jewelry can be anything from precious stones and medallions (a coin-shaped piece of metal) to lockets and amulets. Pendants look best when worn with casual clothing but you can also pair them with dressier looks if you layer them with other shorter neckpieces in the same metal shade.
Matinee necklaces are longer than princess necklaces. Their length ranges from 20 to 23 inches and generally fall between your collar bones and your bust. Because of their longer diameter and loose fit, matinee necklaces draw attention to your bust area. You should style them with high neck, mock neck or turtleneck tops. These necklaces also look great when they are layered alongside necklaces of shorter length—mainly chokers and collar necklaces. Matinees are very versatile and can blend in with office wear, casual as well as party outfits.