There are many different types of necklaces and some of these may be called by different names. I thought I would just concentrate in this post on some common necklace styles in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, that is, those that sit close around the neck. One such necklace is the rivière necklace. These necklaces were worn in the 18th century but continued into the 19th century as they suited low necklines in evening dresses. The rivière necklace is usually a row of gemstones, sometimes graduated from the centre, set in either a collet or claw setting. The gemstones are normally all of the same variety. The traditional gemstones are diamonds, particularly for evening wear, but less expensive versions were made with garnets, amethysts, topaz, citrines and rock crystal. Rivières produced in the 18th and early 19th century were often foiled but open set settings then became more popular. Also in the 19th century, the gemstones were connected by metal links, rather than silk threads, as had been the case earlier. Some necklaces had two chains joining the gemstones, as seen below. The rivière necklace remained popular throughout the 19th century and up until the 1920s.
This rivière style of necklace also led to fringe necklaces, like the Victorian necklace below and the Edwardian tourmaline necklace at the top of the post. More ornate versions of these necklaces, with diamonds and similar stones, were designed to function as both a tiara and a necklace and were popular from the beginning of the 19th century into the early 20th century.
Festoon necklaces could be quite spectacular, with swags of thin chains, diamonds or pearls which draped down between ornate links to create a garland effect. They, too, were popular from the Georgian period into the Edwardian period. The ones for evening wear were stunning but simpler versions were worn in the daytime. The one below has rows of coral beads, caught by three seed pearl set gold links. When worn, it sits just below the neck and the swags drape beautifully. It is hard to show the effect on the stand.
A typical version of an Edwardian seed pearl festoon necklace is shown below. Quite simple with only two chains to form the swag. As mentioned,more elaborate ones were worn in the evening.
Other types of short necklaces in the Victorian era are chokers, wide necklaces worn high around the neck, and collars (called colliers in French) which sit at the base of the neck and encircle it. Chokers, also called dog collars, were popular at the end of the 19th century and into the Edwardian period. They often had a central ornate section joined by rows of gemstones, usually pearls. Some were worn with long strands of pearls.
Collars were popular throughout the 19th century and took many forms. The gold snake necklace with the turquoise-set head comes from the 1840s and was designed to sit at the base of the neck, with the serpent head sitting to one side of the neck, rather than at the front.
The gold cross over mesh necklace with tassel drops is a mid-Victorian piece.
Some of the necklaces described above are very short, often too short for us to wear today, as we have bigger body shapes. Some that are slightly longer are the collars made to wear with lockets which I have discussed in an earlier post. Made of materials such as gold, silver, jet, vulcanite, ivory or tortoiseshell, many were made to wear at the base of the neck but longer versions, designed to wear over daytime dresses with high collars, can be found.