First published: 26-11-2015

What do I need to know about buying a necklace?

Article date: Tue 27th January 2015 03:32 PM
What do I need to know about buying a necklace?
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Necklaces have always been one of the most popular items of jewellery, worn ever since the Stone Age. Fortunately, nowadays we have a bit more choice than we did 40,000 years ago, so there are styles to suit every taste.

If you're considering buying a new necklace, either for yourself or for someone else, there are a few things you might want to consider. We'll take you through all the bits and pieces you need to think about and, hopefully, you can pick out the perfect item.


There are a few different options in terms of the necklace materials that are available. Of course, when you're getting dressed for a particular occasion, it will be your specific outfit that will determine what kind of necklace you choose, but there are a few other things you should consider when buying one.

If you've got sensitive skin, or if you have been known to experience contact dermatitis, some metals will be better for you than others, so try to steer clear of anything with a high copper content, such as rose gold. Some types of sterling silver are made with a lot of copper, so be sure to check this if you're looking at a sterling silver necklace.

High carat gold is ideal, whereas gold-plated jewellery often contains nickel, which can cause reactions in people with sensitive skin. Both platinum and titanium are hypoallergenic, so keep an eye out for those, too.

Of course, you are unlikely to find a necklace that is 100% either silver or gold; both metals are alloyed with other substances. Gold mixed with palladium is called 'white gold', for instance and, as silver itself is too soft to be made into jewellery on its own, it is mixed with a range of other materials to make sterling silver.

If you want more information about the different types of gold used in jewellery, take a look at our guide.

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In terms of durability, pure gold or silver items will last longer than their plated equivalents, but will proper care gold plated items can stay looking shiny for a fair while. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how many years you should be able to wear gold plated jewellery - it depends on the thickness of the plating and how often the item is worn - but correct maintenance can help it stay wearable for longer.

Between gold and silver, gold is the more durable, as silver can be more likely to tarnish. However, to combat this and help silver retain its shine, regular polishing should do the trick.

We've got a few tips here if you want to learn more about looking after your jewellery.


Once you've figured out which kind of material(s) you're after, you can begin the fun part - choosing your style. There are so many different styles of necklace available that you are bound to find one that will suit you perfectly.

One of the first distinctions to make is between chains and pendants. Almost all necklaces are made up of links of various sizes all connected to form one long chain, but pendant necklaces tend to have very slim chains with an item in the centre. Meanwhile, 'chain' necklaces are more typically the same width all the way around.

In terms of what broad types of necklace you can find, there are a few key categories alongside 'chain' and 'pendant'. Different ones will suit different occasions or individual styles, so take a look through them all before you decide which one is for you.

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'Chunky' necklaces are typically just that - chunky. However, they differ from other styles in that they tend to be chunky all the way around, rather than varying in width too much. This gold Karen Millen necklace is an example of a style that is both chunky and a chain - the links of the chain are the main focal point all being a consistently large size.

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'Statement' necklaces, on the other hand, are still pretty sizeable, but they usually have a smaller chain which helps the embellishments stand out - the 'statement' piece of the necklace. This Ted Baker necklace showcases this style perfectly, since the row of black studs along the bottom looks radically different from the chain, making it a really dynamic and eye-catching design.

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Pendant necklaces, like this one from DKNY, have an embellishment in the very centre of the chain, which will fall anywhere from the centre of your neck to your bellybutton, depending on the length of the chain. This one also showcases how various necklaces have different fastenings; unlike the majority of necklaces, it doesn't have the standard clasp - it has a bar instead, which fixes next to the pendant rather than behind the neck.

There are two distinct variations of pendant that you can consider. Some pendants are fixed to one specific place on the chain, whereas others will simply have the chain hooked through a link. The latter style can be good for customising, so if you want to add beads or another pendant of your choice, you have the freedom to swap things around at will!

Everyday style

Pendants and chains are much more popular as everyday items than statement necklaces are, since they can typically be worn with a wider range of outfits. Pendants tend to have slimmer chains and are therefore a bit more discreet, which might be preferable for wearing in an office, for example.

If you are on the lookout for something discreet, also consider what kind of pendant a necklace has - depending on your preferences, you may be wanting to look for something petite or more eye-catching. Pendants come in a variety of shapes and styles, so bear this in mind when you look for one you can wear every day.

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Something like this silver Zinzi necklace will be perfect for everyday wear. The chain is very slim and the pendant is petite, so it will not stand out unduly from what you are wearing. However, the small stone in the chain gives it an extra element of glamour, as well as an asymmetrical design, which makes it more interesting than a standard pendant.

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If you're on the lookout for something that will make more of an impact, a design with contrasting colours will do the trick. This Calvin Klein piece combines a black chain with a rose plated pendant, so both colours really stand out against each other. Black and rose gold are very versatile, so you will be able to match this with a range of outfits, which makes it ideal for everyday wear.

It will match almost all colours and look completely appropriate whether you're at work, the doctors or lunch with friends - what more could you ask from an everyday accessory?

If you want more help figuring out how best to style up your necklace, we've got some hints and tips in our guide.

Buying for someone else

Buying to suit your own personal style is often easier than buying for someone else's. However, you can still find something that will complement them and their tastes without having to worry too much! You also don't have to worry about getting the right size, like you might with a ring, and so you can just focus on getting the perfect style.

It is vital to consider their individual style first, as well as the type of necklaces you have already seen them wearing. When they get dressed up for a big event, do they go for bold or subtle necklaces? What about when you've seen them in a more relaxed environment? This will be your first indicator.

Try also to think about the style of clothes they wear a lot, as this can point you in the first direction. Are they a fan of bright colours and patterns? If so, a dynamic and unusual design of necklace might suit them really well. If they prefer earthier, more subtle tones, pick a necklace that is more understated and classic; this will probably be more to their tastes. If you want to take a look at Watch Shop's full range of necklaces, you can find it here.

Buying a necklace might sound really tricky but in reality, there are just a few things to consider before you stumble upon something perfect, whether you are buying for yourself or someone else. From big and bold to small and subtle, necklaces can suit every taste, occasion and individual style.

Buying a necklace: What you need to know | Watch Shop


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