Chain vs. Necklace

A necklace is set with gemstones, while chains are just metal. There is a grey area; for example, Elisa Peretti’s Diamonds By The Yard can be classified as a “chain” or a “necklace.” 

There are many types of necklaces:
  • Choker is a short necklace resting on the collarbone
  • Sautoir – very long necklace
  • Riviera is a single strand of diamonds of either equal size or graduating down in size towards the back
  • Festoon is a garland of flowers, ribbons, or leafs hung in a curve as a decorative element
  • Fringe has a series of pendant elements that dangle from links or cords
  • Collier or Collar necklaces are typically 12 to 13 inches long, laying flat on the body
  • A pendant is a necklace or a chain with a jewel or medallion dropped from the center
  • Lavalier or Negligee is a small-link, fairly long necklace terminating in a single large pendant or tassel
  • Lariat necklaces don’t have a clasp. They either tied or pulled through an opening on the other end
  • Bib or Plastron
  • Opera is typically around 26 to 36 inches long
  • Matinée is approximately 20 to 22 inches long 
  • Princess is typically 18 inches long
  • The rope is over 30 inches long

Necklace length

  • The Choker is 14-16” and sits snug around the neck.
  • Princess is 16-18” long, falling to the mid-chest. Princess length is the preferred length for a pendant.
  • Matinee extends to 20-22” in length.
  • Opera drapes dramatically at 24-28”.
  • The Rope or Lariat extends over 30”, covering the abdomen. As a double wrap, one turn is a choker, and the other is the Opera.

Diamonds-by-the-Yard: a chain or a necklace?

A string of small round diamonds wrapped in a channel wire and inserted at repeated intervals into a thin chain was popularized by Tiffany’s Elsa Peretti, who claimed the invention.

Necklace and chain clasps and closures


  • Hook-and-Eye or S-Hook is the easiest and least secure clasp made of a hook that slips into an opening to keep the chain in place.
  • Lobster Clasp is the most desirable and secure carabiner-style lock with a spring-loaded gate that snaps back in place once the cap end is inserted. It is opened by simply pulling a small lever that lifts the lip allowing the cap end to be released.
  • Spring Ring is a simple, lightweight clasp made from a hollow tube with a spring inside. Pulling the lever opens the slot for a cap end to be inserted. Once the lever is released, the clasp locks the cap end.
  • The alligator clasp is used as a traditional lock or as a clip for accessories. It features a large loop suitable for multi-strand designs, large cords, or leather strings.
  • Ball-and-Joint clasps use pressure to keep the clasps closed. Their easy-open and easy-close design are too flimsy for expensive necklaces, so they are used mainly for lightweight chains.
  • The Fishhook clasp has a fishhook-shaped tongue threaded inside a box where it clicks in place. Ideal for lightweight necklaces and bracelets.
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