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Searching for an Investment Necklace

Of all the different types of jewelry worn today, necklaces may have been the earliest form of adornment and ornamentation worn by humans. While the first necklaces were likely made of feathers, bones, shells, and plant material, by the Bronze Age they were being crafted from gold, silver, and precious stones. Many different styles and materials have been used over the centuries, but necklaces remain one of the most popular forms of jewelry.

Today, Americans spend more than $80 billion each year on jewelry and watches. While the vast majority is purchased to be worn and enjoyed, many people buy jewelry as an investment. Good quality pieces appreciate over time, and luxury brands, as well as pieces signed by notable designers, can become an important part of an investment portfolio. The following are some of the main types of necklaces.


The term “collar” was once used to describe all necklaces. Today, collar necklaces are 12 to 14 inches in length, usually thick, and sit flush against the skin. They work well when worn with other necklaces and with low necklines or off-the-shoulder tops.


A choker is a short necklace — between 14 and 16 inches in length — that sits high on the neck. Some sources claim that chokers first appeared in the 1790s during the French Revolution, but portraits of Henry VIII’s ill-fated second wife Anne Boleyn (1501-1536) show her wearing a choker made of pearls. Down through history, women of wealth and status — including queens and princesses — have favored the choker. They remained quite popular in the early 20th century, were less so during the middle decades of the 1900s, and then experienced a resurgence in the 1990s. Chokers come in a wide range of colors and styles and can be worn with just about anything. For example, a simple one-tone choker can complement a low-cut evening dress, a thick choker can be paired with a comfy sweater, or several colorful chokers with beads can produce a carefree bohemian look.

Princess Necklaces

Longer than a choker, a princess necklace is 17 to 20 inches in length. This is the most common length for pearl necklaces (18 inches is considered ideal). Princess length is perfect to wear with a crew or high neckline, and they also work well with a v-neck and blazer.

Matinee Necklaces

A matinee necklace is typically a single strand, 22 to 23 inches in length, and sits between the collarbone and bust. They are a good length for layering because they’re longer than a princess but shorter than opera length. Matinee necklaces can be worn over a shirt or blouse, and look best with a high neckline or turtleneck since they tend to draw the eye directly to the bust area.

Opera Necklaces

Usually worn as a single strand, opera necklaces are 30 to 35 inches in length and fall below the bust line. Since they are so long, they can be paired with another necklace such as a choker or princess, or they can be doubled to create a two-strand choker. Opera necklaces are quite versatile and can be worn with a variety of different necklines.

Lariat Necklaces

Longer than opera length, lariat necklaces (also known as rope necklaces) usually don’t have a clasp. Instead, they are either tied or pulled through a circular finding. If worn as a single strand, a lariat necklace sits below the belly button. It can also be doubled or tripled and worn as a layered, shorter length necklace.

Pendant Necklaces

Rather than a specific length, a pendant necklace features a pendant that dangles off the necklace and becomes the focal point of the piece. Pendants come in many styles, shapes, and sizes and can be personalized according to taste and significance. A pendant can be large, colorful and attention-grabbing — called a “statement pendant” — or something smaller, more delicate or more traditional. Popular pendant styles include lockets and lavalieres.

Other Styles

To be sure, there are many different styles of necklaces. A bib necklace is usually collar- or princess-length and consists of a wide front portion that often has beads, pearls, or gemstones sewn in. Festoon necklaces feature delicate chains and draping elements and may include beads, pearls, or precious stones. Graduated necklaces have beads or pearls that progressively change in size, with the largest ones in the center and the smallest in the back. Negligee necklaces have two irregular, asymmetrical drops that hang at slightly different levels. Riviere necklaces are similar to graduated, but they are comprised of gemstones instead of pearls or beads.

Necklaces as an Investment

Buying jewelry as an investment can be compared to buying art: it may be beautiful and pleasant to look at, but that doesn’t mean it’s valuable or will appreciate over time. Here are a few suggestions for those looking to purchase jewelry as an investment.

-Investment necklaces should be worn and loved. Even if it’s purchased as an investment, the owner should derive enjoyment from the piece instead of leaving it in a safe or safety deposit box for the next 50 years. Like art, it should be admired, loved, and enjoyed.

-Jewelry is a long-term investment. The buyer should be as critical as possible with regard to quality, condition, provenance, designer, and brand.  Top-quality pieces will appreciate in value over time, while those of lesser quality or in poor condition probably won’t. It’s important to like the piece, but it should also be a good, long-term investment. Rare, signed, and one-of-a-kind pieces are good choices.

-It helps to talk to experts. As with any other type of investment, it’s always best to get an expert’s opinion before purchasing jewelry as an investment. Those in the business have a much keener eye and a wealth of knowledge, and they know which jewelry is likely to increase in value over time.

-Knowledge is important. The path to choosing the right investment pieces can be both enjoyable and educational. A piece doesn’t have to be rare or signed to be a good investment. If it is authentic, in excellent condition, and representative of the period in which it was designed, it’s likely to appreciate and bring a good return in the future. Doing research on both designers and periods can arm buyers with confidence and give them a much better idea of what they’re investing in.