How to Shop For and Wear Vintage Necklaces

Wear Vintage Necklaces

Vintage necklaces are a timeless fashion accessory that can elevate any outfit. Learn how to shop for and wear them, from recognizing the differences between a Lavalier and a Pendant necklace to understanding how to style a Victorian locket.

Start by browsing reputable auction houses and sites specializing in vintage, such as 1stDibs. Focusing your search by era or designer can help narrow the options so you can make a considered purchase.

Fringed Necklaces

Fringe necklaces make a dramatic statement. You can find fringe necklaces with a variety of materials and styles. These include fringes that look like braids, and rope chains. The fringes can also be of different beads, sizes and colors. These can include vintage Czech pressed glass beads, lucite and celluloid beads. Some of the beads are even carved to create shapes.

Another popular fringe style is the book chain necklace, a metal chain with flat rectangular links that look like little books. These were very popular during the Victorian era.

This lovely vintage Retro necklace from the 1940s is a perfect example of a fringed necklace. It is a gold necklace with fancy double-link chains that support a long fringe of lustrous akoya pearls. The beads range in color from deep cornflower to darker blue, with iridescent lime green and lapis blue small foil beads. It closes with a spring ring clasp. This is also known as a sautoir or a flapper necklace because it was worn during that time of history when women earned the right to vote and prohibition came into effect.

Choker Necklaces

A vintage necklace is a great way to add an elegant look to any outfit. You can choose from a variety of designs, materials and colors to match your unique style.

From the wrapped ribbons of the French Revolution era to the bold beads of the Jazz Age, the closely fitting neck adornment has been a fashion fixture for centuries. Today, we see them re-appearing in period dramas like Bridgerton and Downton Abbey and on celebrities such as Heidi Klum and Gwyneth Paltrow.

A silver choker can add a sophisticated touch to your daywear wardrobe, while a gold-toned piece can elevate your evening ensemble. For a more casual date night, try a simple chain or pearl choker with a vintage-inspired design.

Medallion Necklaces

For thousands of years medallions have adorned necks. These flat metal discs come in a wide variety of designs allowing wearers to show their personal style. Historically, medallion necklaces were often given as status symbols to royalty and wealthy people while others may have purchased them for spiritual purposes such as warding off evil spirits or commemorating a victory in battle.

Today, designers like Alison Chemla create medallion necklaces that are more modern and sentimental. Her ‘Welcome Home’ and ‘Just Married’ designs are ideal for celebrating new additions to the family or marking marriage milestones. Other designers, such as LA-based Misa, are inspired by spirituality and channel a universal energy into their designs.

A medallion necklace can look casual or formal, depending on the design and chain length. A short, almost choker-length chain looks great with harsh winter outfits while a mid-length necklace is perfect for dressing up over a bodycon dress or a blazer.

Lavalier Necklaces

This necklace style features a long chain that ends in a single pendant or tassel. Originally popular in the late 1600s, this type of necklace was worn by Duchesse de la Valliere (mistress of Louis XIV of France). It became especially fashionable again around 1900, and it also popped up in the Jugendstil/Art Nouveau period.

Today, this type of necklace is often used by fraternities and sororities. When a male member of a fraternity presents his girlfriend with a lavalier, it signifies a commitment to one another that is similar to an engagement.

Some lavalier necklaces are decorated with the fraternity’s Greek letters while others are very simple and feature only a pendant. This necklace type is sometimes confused with a festoon necklace, which is actually a necklace that has multiple chains with different lengths. This type of necklace was also popular in the 1920s.


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