CIRA Diamond pendant necklace

What is a Riviera Necklace?

Have you ever asked, “what is a Riviera necklace?” You may have seen one being advertised on a jeweller’s website, or you were confused about the many names that jewellers give this style of necklace to make it stand out.

Whether you’re interested in a Riviera necklace for yourself, or you simply want to become more informed about specific jewellery types, then read on. We’ll share some helpful information about Riviera necklaces to help you make an informed decision about your next jewellery purchase.

A Necklace of Many Names

To know what a Riviera necklace is, you first have to understand just how many names this jewellery type has. Some people call it Riviera, while others refer to it by its French name, rivière, which translates to ‘river’.

In English, we pronounce it riv-ee-air, while French people say ree-vyer. However, in recent years, mispronunciation has made its way onto the jewellery industry. Some people now pronounce it as Riviera, which has resulted in an unintentional association with the French Riviera, southeastern France’s Mediterranean Coast.

To avoid confusion, some jewellery manufacturers and retailers have given Riviera necklaces a new name altogether. A select few might refer to them as eternity necklaces, while others call them tennis necklaces, which is a spin on diamond tennis bracelets of a similar style. Whatever you call this necklace, though, it’s hard to deny it’s an exquisite piece that’s deserving of a place in your jewellery box.

What Is a Riviera Necklace?

Now that you know what various jewellers might call a Riviera necklace, you can learn about what a Riviera necklace actually is and how it has changed over time.

Riviera or rivière necklaces have precious stones of the same shape, size, or variety the entire way around. They might consist of amethyst, topaz, sapphires, garnets, rubies, or other beautiful gemstones. In recent years, one of the most popular Riviera necklace styles has featured diamonds.

In antique examples of this necklace type, the gemstones were set in separate collets, frequently of the same cut, shape, and kind. In today’s market, it’s not uncommon to find diamonds or other gemstones that alternate in size or gradually go from small to large. They are often positioned in prong or claw mountings, similar to tennis bracelets.

The diamond at the bottom is sometimes the largest, and the smaller stones around it lead to the clasp where the stones are the smallest of all.

Some rivières also have small hinged loops to allow for pendants, but these are not strictly Riviera necklaces. You may even see necklaces with two lines of gemstones referred to as double Riviera. This is a modern take on the Riviera, but isn’t necessarily a Riviera itself.

Riviera Necklaces Throughout History

Today, exquisite examples of Riviera necklaces adorn the jewellery cabinets of stores around the world. However, what you see today actually looks slightly different from Riviera necklaces from years past.

No jeweller or historian knows with complete accuracy when they first came to exist. Some believe 1811 may have been a pivotal year for the design, with Napoleon gifting his wife, Marie Louise, a necklace to celebrate the birth of their son.

The necklace consisted of 28 round old mine-cut diamonds laid out in a fringe pattern with four oval diamonds, five pear-shaped diamonds, and 10 briolettes. In total, it weighed 260 carats.

Maria Louise’s new necklace wasn’t technically a Riviera, but thanks to its choker-style elements, it may have set the scene for future rivière creations.

Some historians also believe that necklaces with single rows of precious stones were worn in the early part of the 1700-1800 period. Often, women would wear velvet ribbons with suspended pendants accompanied by a row of precious stones encompassed by smaller stones.

During the Georgian period, Riviera necklaces were vibrant and bold, with foil-backed gemstones of multi-coloured harlequin, amethyst, and garnet, and collet silver-topped gold settings. These individually-set necklaces with rose-cut, table-cut, briolette and old mine-cut gems are now in demand by antique jewellery collectors.

From the Victorian period until today, open settings with old mine-cut and brilliant-cut diamonds were and are the more preferred choice. Variations of these are likely what you will see at jewellery stores near you.

Why Are Riviera Necklaces So Popular?

There are so many beautiful necklaces for sale in today’s modern jewellery market. Yet, the Riviera necklace continues to reign supreme in many respects.

The popularity of this necklace style skyrocketed when the Kimberley Mine, or Tim Kuilmine, in South Africa was discovered in 1871. As a high volume of diamonds entered the western market, jewellers worked overtime to turn them into beautiful, high-end Riviera necklaces.

The many prominent figures throughout time wearing them also hasn’t hurt their position in the market. Queen Mary of Great Britain owned a 100-carat collet-set diamond Riviera that was made in around 1900. Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret, inherited it and wore it often.

It was also on-trend in the Hollywood scene during the same era. Many women would pair their stunning strapless gowns with timeless diamond Riviera necklaces. This striking combination hasn’t gone out of style since. In fact, you won’t find many A-listers who haven’t donned a diamond rivière to complement a beautiful evening gown, including Angelina Jolie and Zoë Kravitz.

How to Buy a Riviera Necklace

The beauty of Riviera necklaces is undeniable, especially when it comes with such a rich history. If you’ve decided that such a necklace is right for you, it’s only natural that you’ll question how to buy one. Fortunately, the process is straightforward.

You can contact your preferred jewellery designer and manufacturer to discover what beautiful options they have in stock. Remember, they might be referred to as tennis necklaces, rivière, or Riviera necklaces.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you may also be able to custom-design ones to suit your unique needs. You can then enjoy a custom piece that’s entirely unique to you.  Throughout the centuries, Riviera necklaces have proven themselves as timeless pieces deserving of a place in your jewellery box. If you’re after something special, now might be the perfect time to book an appointment at Kalfin Jewellery to design the Riviera necklace of your

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