Necklaces, Pendants, and Lavaliers

Most ladies have jewellery that is worn around the neck. The most common of these today is the pendant. What exactly is a pendant though? People think they know what it is, but do they really? Most of the people that come into the jewellery store I work at think that it is exactly the same as a necklace. Not the case! Let us find out exactly why.

The word pendant comes to the English language from the Latin word pendere. That word simply means “to hang down”. The English version of the word had to come to us through the French. It is one of those quirky words that does not come to us and directly from the Romance languages without having to go through a Germanic language. Now that that is settled we can get to the important part.

A pendant can be a part of a necklace, but not all pendants are necklaces. In fact, most pendants are stand-alone pieces. They are usually worn on a chain, a cord, or on a single strand of small beads. All a pendant is, is an ornament that hangs around the neck by means of a bail. What this means is that it is composed of a single drop piece. Whether that drop is fancy and has more than a single stone really does not make a difference in whether or not it is a pendant. For those of you that want a specific name for a single stone pendant, that would be a solitaire. Just like a single stone ring. But wait! There is more! That bail is there for a purpose. The bail allows the pendant to be removes from where it is hanging around the neck to be worn as a pin. So, it is really two pieces of jewellery in one. At times the pendant may be made in such a way that allows it to also be attached to a bracelet. Which makes it three pieces of jewellery in one. How multi-functional it is!

What exactly is a necklace and how does it differ from a pendant?  Also, what the heck is a lavalier?

To answer the question of what a necklace is: a necklace is a highly ornamented form of jewellery worn around the neck.  Necklaces are one of, if not the, oldest form of jewellery.  Necklaces usually have many drops.  There is always a main drop called the pendant.  The only exception of this is a pearl necklace which may simply be a single or multiple strand of pearls.  Most pendants are designed to look like lace.  In the past necklaces were worn more frequently.  Today.  They are seen as an accessory to formal wear.  The only time I have sold an actual necklace is for a wedding.  Girls will wear them to high school prom or other formal dances as well.

Now on to that funny named piece of jewellery.  A lavalier is a piece of jewellery that is also worn around the neck.  It is not as formal as a necklace, but more formal than a pendant.  The easiest way to tell a lavalier apart from a pendant or a necklace is that it has only a few drops and they are not free floating on the chain, cord, or strand of beads.  They are attached directly to what they are on and cannot be removed.  These are usually worn to semi-formal events.