Ever had one of those days where you have the perfect outfit but you just can't decide what jewelry to wear with it? Well, never fear: it happened to our ancestors, too.
|By Charles Howard Hodges|
That's right, Grandma. WEAR ALL THE BLING.
Anyway, this portrait is what got me started, really. There's obviously a lot going on there, but my favorite is her rivière necklace. That's the really shiny one with all the stones, also called (wait for it...) a collet necklace. A bit of browsing on the interwebs told me that there are actually plenty of originals still around, although they can range in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. They also range in date from the mid to late 18th century all the way up to the early 20th century and it seems that the style was indeed popular for over a century (for those who could afford it, of course.)
The earliest examples of rivière necklaces I found date from around 1760 (though let it be known that I'm definitely not an expert on earlier periods!), like the one worn in this portrait of Anne Fairchild Bowler, wife of Rhode Island merchant Metcalf Bowler.
|By John Singleton Copley c. 1763|
National Gallery of Art
|KCI Digital Archives, 1750-60|
|Golden Topaz collet necklace c. 1780|
S.J. Phillips Ltd
|National Museum of American History|
|Third Floor Antiques|
|Château d'Arenenberg, musée Napoléon|
|From Antiques & Uncommon Treasures|
|Gold & Agate Rivière c. 1830 |
No. 1 Mayfare
Almost a hundred years after the earliest examples I saw, the rivière is still in fashion--quite a feat, given how much styles changed in that intervening century! Franz Xavier Winterhalter painted a portrait of Queen Victoria in 1859 wearing a rivière of diamonds...which means it can't have gone too much out of style, right?
|Wikimedia Commons, no artist given|
|Citrine rivière necklace, circa 1870|
For the most part, the style stayed pretty similar over a couple hundred years, with minor details (to my eye, anyway) that differentiate when each one was made. The example below dates to the early 20th century, and you can see in the closeup that there are only a few differences between it and the earlier examples above.
|Early 20th Century Amethyst Paste Necklace|
The Three Graces
And, P.S. Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue apparently agrees. Can't argue with that fashion advice, eh? Yeah, that's right...not one, not two, but THREE apparently original collet necklaces. If only...right?