Vintage Necklaces Styles

Costume Jewelry Collectors
an original publication by RCJ and Dorothea Stringfield

From earliest times, men and women have adorned themselves with necklaces.  Natural materials were used to make simple pendants, or roughly made beads made of shell, bone and other materials were strung together.  As centuries passed, materials and techniques became more refined.

Many women of today recognize the artistry and value in vintage necklaces, whether they be made with rhinestones, glass, wood, ivory, precious or base metals.  Vintage necklaces need not be signed to be beautiful and treasured, as many companies and designers failed to sign much of their jewelry.  In fact, some of the most striking pieces are often unsigned.

Vintage Glass Bead Necklaces come in such a variety of colors and styles! You can find dainty little chokers or huge collars with hundreds of beads.  Look for vintage Czech glass beads with sparkle and charm, West German plastic beads in floral form, tiny seed beads in strand after strand, Aurora Borealis beads to light up the night and art glass beads in marvelous, colorful shapes.

For nature lovers, there are carved ivory and bone beads, rock crystal, coral, mother-of-pearl and wood.  Don’t forget the marvelous beads made of plastics: Bakelite, celluloid, lucite, acrylic and more.

For today’s latest fashion trend, wear layers of bead necklaces or a single necklace with many strands.   For a different look, combine a bead necklace with two or three metal chains.

NECKLACE LENGTHS:    Lengths sited are often different, depending on the source.

Collar: 12-13 inches
Choker: 14-16 inches
Princess: 17-19 inches
Matinee: 20-24 inches
Opera: 28-34 inches
Rope: 45+ inches


Bib Necklace   bib necklace    Also called a “Collarette”, it is a necklace that fits at the base of the neck and has flowing or draped ornaments in front.

Bookchain Necklace   bookchain necklace  bookchain close   Necklace with folded over square or rectangular links, often engraved or stamped.

Choker   choker necklace   A necklace that fits snugly around the neck.

Collar   collar necklace    A necklace that fits at the base of the neck, and extends the same distance from the neck at all points along the neck-chain.

Chain of Office   chain of office    Also called a “Collar of Office” or “Collar of Estate”. It usually designates the wearers position in society: Knight, Mayor, Guildmaster, etc.

Dog Collar   dog collar necklace   Also called a “Collier de Chien” – tight-fitting, multi-strand choker.

En esclavage   En esclavage necklace    Necklace of several strands, each strand longer than the next higher, so there is a separation between the strands when worn.

Festoon   festoon necklace   A necklace with swagged drapes; may have additional ornaments.

Fringe   fringe necklace   Necklace with multiple strands hanging from a chain around the neck.

Lavalier   Lavalier necklace    A neck chain suspending a small pendant set with gemstones — c. 1900.

Locket   locket necklace    A pendant that opens to reveal a space for one or two small pictures or to hold a tiny keepsake, such as a whisp of hair from a loved one. Usually suspended from a chain.

Longchain   longchain necklace    Long metal chain worn around the neck with the end attached to the bodice, forming a swag, often ending in a swivel hook for suspending a watch or pendant.

Matinee   matinee length necklace    A single strand necklace that is 20 – 26 inches long.

Negligee or Lingerie  negligee necklace    Necklace with two pendants that hang around the neck at unequal lengths and has no closure.

Opera   opera length necklace   A single strand necklace that is 27-34 inches long.

Pendant   pendant necklace    A necklace with a single stone or ornament hanging from a chain.

Princess   princess length necklace    A single strand necklace that is 17- 19 inches long.

Riviere   riviere necklace   riviere necklace    A short necklace of gemstones of the same kind, with each stone collet-set and linked in a row.

Sautoir   sautoir necklace   A very long necklace, usually made of small beads, often ending with a tassel or pendant.

Torc or Torque  Torque necklace    A rigid metal hoop or band that has a opening at the rear, which usually has a central design element at center front.

Torsade   torsade necklace    Multi-strand twisted short necklace usually made of beads or pearls.

Much of the above information is from Warman’s Jewelry 2nd and 3rd editions, by Christie Romero.

Copyright 1997 to present — —
All Rights Reserved.
Original RCJ publications pages created and or authored
by Dorothea Stringfield