In the world of fine jewelry, there exists a broad vernacular to describe the range of pieces available for choosing. Yet, these specialized terms can sometimes be confusing to those less familiar with them. Not only that, but sometimes multiple terms exist to describe the same type of jewelry. Additionally, incorrect terminology is sometimes used, further complicating what should be fairly simple. In this blog, we will explain the difference between a pendant and a necklace.
ARE PENDANTS AND NECKLACES THE SAME THING?:
No. Pendants and necklaces are not the same thing.
WHAT IS A NECKLACE?:
The term necklace specifically refers to the item of jewelry worn around your neck. For example, think of a simple gold chain you may own, with nothing on it. This is an example of a necklace.
But a chain doesn’t have to be simple or plain to be considered a necklace. Let’s say that chain is interrupted along the way with diamond stations - such as in our Asymmetrical Diamond Station Necklace :
As long as the decorative items on the chain are a part of it (and not independent items hanging from it), your piece of jewelry would still be considered a necklace.
WHAT IS A PENDANT?:
A pendant, on the other hand, is a piece of jewelry that could exist independently from the chain (or necklace) it hangs from. In theory, you could wear it on any number of necklaces, as long as the bail (the ring you thread the chain through) is big enough to accommodate your chain of choice.
CAN A PENDANT BE A NECKLACE?:
No, a pendant (alone) cannot be a necklace. Try thinking of a pendant as a charm, and a necklace as a chain and it may become easier to picture their differences.
However, you will sometimes see these two terms used together to describe a piece of jewelry — Pendant Necklace — and when used accordingly, the term is not wrong. We’ll explain:
Take this piece of ours, for example:
It is titled: A Walk on the Moon Australian Opal Necklace.
And this title is accurate, in that there is a complete chain in place. Yet there is also a pendant with a bail (aka: jump ring) that allows the opal pendant to slide freely along the necklace. By definition, that also makes this piece an opal pendant necklace. So to call it an opal pendant would not be technically correct; that would imply the pendant exists without the chain. But by referring to it as an opal pendant necklace, you accurately encompass all its features..
The term “pendant” simply becomes a modifier to describe the type of necklace you have.
To show you a comparison, the Carina Nebula Australian Opal Necklace would not be considered an opal pendant necklace. This piece, made of Crystal Opal and diamonds, is an example of an opal necklace because the gemstones interrupt the chain and do not slide upon it.
DOES IT MATTER IF I CALL IT A PENDANT OR A NECKLACE?:
Not really. In a perfect world, we would all use the same - and the correct - terms. That said, there is so much scrambling of jewelry nomenclature that it probably doesn’t make a huge difference in *most* situations.
WHEN MIGHT IT MATTER?:
You may want to pay close attention to the terms you use, as well as those your jeweler uses when shopping for or designing a new pendant or necklace. If diction is interpreted literally, but used flippantly, you could end up with something very different from what you initially expected when placing an order. Our advice is to take a moment to be sure you’re on the same page from the start of a new order.
The easiest way to think of it is like this:
- A necklace goes around your neck.
- A pendant can hang off a necklace.
- When a pendant hangs off a necklace, you could generically call it a necklace or be more precise and call it a pendant necklace.
Whatever your preference when it comes to the jewelry lexicon, we make it all here at NIXIN Jewelry; opal pendants, opal necklaces and opal pendant necklaces. And whatever you choose to call them, we don’t really care. We just want to help you find that perfect piece that resonates with you. Come and explore our opal necklaces!.