Jewelry

Parts of a Necklace – A Complete Guide

Parts of a necklace guide

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Although necklaces are worn by people around the world, not many know the features of a necklace. In fact, some people don’t recognize the difference between a whole necklace and a pendant.

Necklaces are comprised of different, unique parts that have distinct names. An understanding of these features can be useful in case you’d ever need to replace broken or lost pieces.

If you’re curious about the anatomy of a necklace, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the various parts of a necklace and how each part functions.

Foundation

The foundation is the main part of a necklace that goes around the neck, in the form of a chain or a cord. Various materials such as metal, beads, or gemstones are used in making the foundation. The two main types of foundation are metal chains and cords. These are usually decorated or have ornaments added to them in order to enhance their aesthetic appeal.

Metal chains

Chunky metal chain necklace

Chunky mixed metal necklace by Spaceman California. See it here.

Metal chains are made of various metals such as gold, stainless steel, sterling silver and titanium. They’re available in various, distinct styles of interlocking metal pieces including dainty and rugged styles. Dainty chains are typically box chains or rope chains whereas rugged chains can be double rope chains or curb chains.

The length of the chain varies for men and women. Women’s chains range from 14 to 36 inches in length while chains for men can be anywhere from 18 to 24 inches. Although chain widths differ greatly depending on the type of chains, most are about 1 to 3mm wide.

Cords

Pearl necklace

Pearl necklace by Sarah Beevers Design. See it here.

In addition to metal, the foundation of a necklace can be made of leather ropes, string, hemp, fabric cord or velvet. Cords vary in thickness depending on the pendants, string stones or beads that they hold.

Common beads used are pearls, metals, plastics, shells, wood and gems. Their shape, size, and material composition determine the type of cord to use. Beads come in various shapes including ovals, squares, tubes, lentils, disks, cylindrical and carved, to name a few.

In beaded necklaces, the entire foundation consists of beads and these usually have interesting and diverse pattern. Others have beads with spacers between them while some just have a centerpiece or pendant.

Clasps

Types of clasps

Popular Types of Clasps

Clasps fasten your necklace in place once you put it on. Most of them are usually at the back though some exceptions exist where the clasp is located in the front to compliment the pattern on the necklace. Here are some popular types of necklace clasps:

  • Magnetic Clasp: A secure and elegant clasp, it works well if its magnet is strong enough. The ends of the necklace have one halo of the clasp that snaps shut when they come together.
  • Spring or C-Spring: This is the most common of clasp, found in the shape of a ring or circle. You’ll need to pull back a small lever attached to the clasp in order to open it, with the aid of a spring mechanism. While it’s a very affordable type of clasp that works very well, however, it can also be quite annoying to fasten.
  • Fish Hook Clasp: This clasp is similar to a metallic fishhook. It fits into an oval-shaped box and is ideal for lightweight necklaces. However, it’s not a very common type of clasp.
  • Hook-and-Eye or Hook-Style Fastener: This clasp has a hook on to which the eye connects. Most have a crumpled end that attaches right on to your cord, but you also have the option of choosing a ring of your choice to fix it to.
  • Lobster Clasps: These resemble lobsters’ claws and contain a spring that self-closes. Swivel clasps are a type of lobster clasp.
  • Toggle Clasp: A commonly used clasp for necklace, the toggle clasp is quite easy to use and fairly secure. To operate it, you have to slip the bar into the ring and turn it a little so that it won’t come back through the ring.
  • Slide Lock Clasps: These come in the form of tubes where one tube slides into the other to lock into place.
  • Open-Box Clasp: Shaped like a box, this clasp has a latch that goes into the box slot to hold the necklace together.
  • Barrel or Torpedo Clasp: One of the best clasps for necklaces, the barrel or torpedo clasp secures the necklace properly, giving a clean finish to your jewelry piece. It’s made of a threaded cylinder into which the other part, a tongue, fits in and is held in place with a safety clasp.
  • Screw-In Clasp: This clasp involves screwing one end to the other until it’s completely fastened. Although it’s secure, it can be difficult to screw, especially one-handed.

Ornaments or Attachments

The ornaments are what give necklaces their uniqueness and beauty. There are many different types of necklace ornaments including the following:

Pendants

Rose gold rose pendant

Rose gold rose pendant by Beckys Boutique Online. See it here.

Pendants are the objects suspended from the necklace. The name pendant is derived from the French word pendre which means to hang. These objects are made from various materials such as gemstones, metals and glass. They come in different shapes, sizes, and styles and while some are permanently fixed on the necklace with bails, others are easily slid into a necklace.

Bib

Bib necklace

Abalone shell bib necklace by Rustica Jewelry.  See it here.

A bib is a large, web-like mesh of stones that are circular or triangular-shaped. Fringe necklaces and waterfall necklaces are some variants of the bib style.

Lockets

Golden heart shaped locket

Etched heart locket by Silk Purse Sows Ear. See it here.

Lockets are ornaments with hinged covers that hang freely on a necklace. They’re usually worn for sentimental reasons, because they can hold reminders of the loved ones in your life.  Some people keep a photo, lock of hair or a tiny cushion with some drops of perfume inside their locket.

Festoons

Festoon necklace

Vintage brass festoon necklace by Pink Lila Shop. See it here.

These are fancy and sometimes intricate centerpieces of beads or chains that dangle from a necklace. They can also be in the form of a garland where the chains are shaped like ribbons, flowers or bows.

Trinkets

Antique charm necklace by Disney. See it here.

Trinkets are small pieces of metal made into different shapes for attaching to a necklace, much like pendants. They can be fashioned into creative shapes like letters, hearts, butterflies and rings with gemstones around them, to name a few.

Bails

Also referred to as pendant bails, these are small components on necklaces through which you can suspend your ornaments. There are many finishes, varieties, and sizes of bails including the following:

  • Safety Pin Bails: These are shaped like a safety pin with bulb-shaped, round bottoms. They’re easy to open and close by gently pressing them.
  • Classic Bail: This is shaped like a hook with a tiny ring through which the necklace passes. Its lower part has a slightly bigger ring that connects with the pendant.
  • Hidden Bail: A hidden bail goes through the back of a pendant in the same way the chain also passes through and is concealed, which is why it got its name.
  • Jump Ring: This is a ring with an opening through which you slide in the ornamental piece. You gently push to close or better still, solder it shut.
  • Standard or Snap-On Bails: These are metallic and can be quickly snapped to open them. A variation is a magnetic lock-style loop with a hinge and clip.
  • Peg Bails: You can find these stuck into the top of cheaper, hollow stones of a necklace.
  • Split Ring Bail: This bail resembles a key ring because of the double rings. The pendant can be attached to it in the same way you would put a key on a key ring.

Wrapping Up

Necklaces are a beautiful form of art that convey a fashion statement either subtly or boldly. The versatility of necklaces offers numerous choices that appeal to anyone, regardless of whether they’re highly conservative or more into trendy jewelry pieces. Now that you know all about the different parts of these jewelry pieces, you’ll know exactly what piece you’ll need the next time you lose or break part of a necklace.