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Necklace, pendant, chain, and choker: what’s the difference?

Names for many types of jewellery are used interchangeably, or can overlap for a single piece. Yet, other names point to minute, historical differences that are important but not always crucial. Some terms can be used both broadly and specifically. Yet, what about the differences between necklaces, pendants, chains and chokers. Do you know what makes each of these unique? They’re all made to be worn around the neck, and ‘necklace’ might be used casually to describe any of them. This doesn’t mean someone using this term is wrong. If you know what they mean, they’ve communicated their intent. It’s nice to know the difference and be able to use terms that are more specific, however. When you’re deciding what to wear with a particularly important dress, the difference between a necklace and a choker can be extraordinary.


The necklace

Necklaces are the most recognisable of these four categories of jewellery. Like the rest, you wear a necklace about the neck. They’re constructed of a metal chain, usually (but not always) gold or silver. You may also see gemstones featured in the chain. These may be linked together in some way as well.

If the chain is consistent throughout and has no feature that hangs from it, it is simply a necklace. A necklace is often an elegant and classical way of adorning an ensemble. It remains noticeable yet understated. This makes it a feature to draw the eye, to complement fashion, but not always one to outshine it. Necklaces are simple in nature yet can be complex in design. They highlight the neck especially, almost like a frame.


The pendant

If the necklace has a feature that hangs from it, this is known as a pendant. It is most often attached or connected to the necklace via a loop. It typically hangs straight down. This makes the necklace and the pendant partners. A necklace doesn’t need a pendant, but a pendant does need a necklace from which to hang.

A pendant complements the necklace as a feature. The necklace’s lines naturally and necessarily point the eye toward it. This is a way of maintaining the necklace’s classical highlight of the neck while featuring a pendant that makes a statement. The pendant can be understated like the necklace or can stand out as a highlight. Along with the necklace highlighting one’s neck, the pendant can draw the eye to features like the collarbone and neckline. Pendants can also be hung from chains and chokers. They are a complementary piece or highlight more than an isolated one.


The chain

A chain resembles a cable in its design. It is technically a type of necklace, so a chain can be a necklace at the same time. Chains are generally thicker and heavier in both look and weight. They may even hint at an industrial appearance and feature hardier clasps and loops.

They evoke a more modern and less classical sensibility. Thus, they stand out more as their own piece and less as a complementary one. A chain necklace may also feature several chains that are meant to coordinate in appearance. These multiple chain necklaces can serve to section off one’s neck, collarbone, and neckline, thereby capturing the eye via pattern as much as by colour and material.


The choker

A choker is a type of necklace that fits the neck snugly. It sits higher on the neck than other forms of necklaces and doesn’t give any space to hang lower. Already seen as different and less traditional/more modern, chokers are often designed to stand out – more highlight than complement. They can help accentuate the lines of one’s neck rather than the length and work tremendously well with simpler fashion designs that give space to the shoulders and collarbones.

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