Long Pendant Necklaces: 47 Jewelry Tips for Women Over 50, 60, 70 – Gold, Silver, Diamonds, Real or Fake
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
A long pendant necklace is probably the most important and versatile piece of fine or fashion jewelry an older woman can own. Well, there’s no one “best” necklace style, size, or length that’s perfect for every single chickadee, however I have found long pendants to be truly indispensable for at least one old lady over 60… myself.
If I could have only one piece of jewelry, it would be a long, bold pendant necklace. I’m talking 30 inches… or longer… without the drop. My other indispensable item is a pair of large mabé pearl earrings. (I wear those babies everywhere… even hiking in the woods.)
Hey, if you are tall and thin... or you have delicate bone structure... you may be able to wear smaller jewels and shorter necklaces, but I’m writing this for the average American woman who’s never worked as a fashion model. If that’s you, you’ll probably be happier with a long bold pendant rather than a short delicate chain.
Large Pendant Necklaces for Women Over 50
Why are long pendants perfect for most women?
1. Long necklaces lengthen your neck visually. Chokers and short necklaces chop you up like a guillotine.
2. Big bold necklaces show up! If you’re chubby or you have broad shoulders, no one is going to notice that trendy little solitaire in the hollow of your neck until you’re in bed with them… and it’s the only thing you’re wearing.
3. Long necklaces make your chest one of your focal points. OK, this is not ideal, but wouldn’t you rather have people glancing at your boobs from time to time instead of analyzing your double chin and your wrinkled neck?
Fine Jewelry or Fashion Jewelry?
I decided to write about jewelry because I lost my long, 18k white-gold circle pendant with a smattering of diamonds. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to replace my beautiful necklace with the paltry sum for which it was insured. I’m really bummed…
I’ve never had much REAL jewelry, and most of the stuff I have had is way too small physically or visually for me these days. So, my tiny diamond studs, short pearls, and chintzy chains have found new homes.
It’s so hard to find something nice that’s big enough for a gal who’s 5’8” (in heels) and 170 pounds! The ONE GOOD PENDANT I had is gone and I’ve been online for weeks trying to find a necklace in a similar size with a similar feel that doesn’t require me to stand on the street corner with a sign asking for donations.
So… I’m going back and forth between buying something real or buying a well-made fake. Maybe I’ll just get something cheap (and big).
Jewelry Tips for Women Over 50
There are a lot of online jewelry tips for older women. And, the advice is conflicting. I’m “supposed” to wear short statement necklaces that are far from my sagging boobs… no, I’m “supposed” to wear thin gold chains and layer them so they're longer. Hey, I’m “supposed” to wear stack rings to be hip… but... no, I’m not “supposed” to wear any rings because I have old hands. So, I’m supposed to wear whatever some 30-year-old child says!
It’s all BS IMO. They don’t know me!
I’m not trying to look younger! I’m not trying to look trendy! I’m not even trying to look elegant! I’m just trying to look feminine and cute in a soft, but edgy, way that suits my chubby, top-heavy body. I know what looks good on me and it might look good on you.
I believe at some point every woman has to ask herself if she can still wear her smaller jewelry. Hey, dolls, you can wear whatever you want, but I think every woman who hasn’t had a facelift lately looks best in large statement jewelry of some kind. It seems to balance out the sags and wrinkles.
Note: Most writers who give fashion “tips” just list the things that look good on them. I’m pretty much the same, however I’m willing to admit it.
Fine Jewelry: Pendants for Older Women
People often think my jewelry is more valuable than it is, so I like to imagine I’m fairly good at getting the most bang for my measly buck. Hopefully, something I say will help you in this era of high jewelry prices and low wages.
Note: The “tips” in this article are just ideas I jotted down in no particular order as I searched for a new necklace I could afford – and lusted after some I couldn’t. The first tips are mostly for fine jewelry.
4. Size: It’s smaller than it looks. If you’re looking at fine jewelry online and it doesn’t require a second mortgage, it’s probably miniscule in real life. Check the dimensions.
5. Solitaires: A solitaire pendant (single diamond or gemstone) is too small to show up on Facebook.
6. Own Your Age: Picture a classic grand dame – some old bird we all admire – like the Queen of England or Iris Apfel. Can you imagine either of them wearing a ditzy little sapphire solitaire that makes her look as if a black ladybug landed on her neck? Well, you may not be as old as QE2 or Apfel, but people under 50 think you are… so play the part of the elegant older lady… or extraordinary ex-hippie… or fabulously eccentric world traveler. Why be average?
7. Length: What’s the best length for a necklace? I don’t like to follow rules – because they ARE made to be broken – however the optimal length for an older woman is summed up very well by my fashionista daughter in a fashion article for women over 70:
- “The necklace should be longer… above the chest because the boobs are getting saggy, but below the face as far as you can go. You can sometimes do longer things, too.”
8. Small Jewelry: Don’t stash your small jewelry that was given as a gift. Tiny pieces must be worn… if only to encourage good behavior in the future. A dinky birthstone solitaire can be worn layered with other necklaces… as long as the other necklaces are not dinky as well. Eeek! Instead, you should layer your tiny love token with big chunky necklaces. (A bunch of chintzy pendants on tiny gold chains makes an older woman look like she lives at the pawn shop.)
9. Pendant Drop Size: To determine if a pendant is large enough to show up in the real world, check how wide the “drop” is. If the website only gives the height, remember to exclude the bale when estimating the width. (If there are no dimensions, you can either email the site or assume the pendant is waaaay smaller than it looks.)
10. Jewelry on Sale: Buy your fine jewelry from the sale or closeout section. If you’re buying something “good”, it will never be out of style.
11. Lengthen Your Necklace: Pendants without attached chains are the most versatile. You can play with the length using a variety of longer chains.
12. Silver Chains: Consider wearing a silver or stainless steel chain instead of a white gold chain if your white gold necklace is long enough to catch on something and break without you noticing it. (Substantial silver chains are usually safer than delicate gold ones. I should have worn my gold pendant on a stronger chain. Boohoo! Sadness… sniffle sniffle.)
13. Pearl Pendants: A pearl solitaire must be AT LEAST 10 or 11mm if you want it to look like something other than a dribble of toothpaste.
14. Pendant Size: A gold circle pendant, intended to be worn on a long chain, should be at least one inch (wide) if you want the general public to realize you’re wearing it. I prefer a fine jewelry pendant to be at least one and a half inches. When I’m buying costume jewelry or a pendant made of semi-semiprecious stone, like agate, I look for something much larger.
15. Openwork Pendant: To get more bang for your buck in gold or silver, look for an openwork pendant. This style is much more affordable than a similarly sized solid disc or medallion.
16. Diamonds for Day: Look for a pendant you can wear for day or night. A gold or silver pendant sprinkled with a few tiny diamonds (or a base metal sprinkled with a few tiny CZs) is more versatile than something with diamonds covering every square millimeter. Excessively bling-y pendants look pretentious in the daytime unless you live in Las Vegas or Los Angeles. Do I follow my own advice on this matter? Not always.
17. Diamond Solitaires: Unless you’re spending a lot of money, a solitaire (single gemstone) can look pretty chintzy… especially on older females. Most of us can’t afford a diamond solitaire large enough to be commensurate with our age and station.
18. Cheap Can Look Cheap: Cheap multicolored gemstone pendants usually look cheap.
19. Tanzanite: Something about tanzanite reminds me of QVC… and not in a good way. If it matches your eyes or it looks extraordinarily good on you, knock yourself out.
20. Pavé Diamonds: Pavé designs rock when the jewelry is well designed and well constructed. I like pavé best when the diamonds are scattered randomly across the piece.
21. Can You Return It? Don’t buy any jewelry online that can’t be returned. Yes, this tip was learned the hard, expensive way. If you end up with something you don’t love, layer it with other pieces.
Cheap Tricks That Look Expensive
I’ve never had much money myself, but I was once married to a trust-fund kid and I studied everyone else’s jewelry… assuming I would be able to afford my own gems one day. Hahaha……… Life... it’s so funny.
Well, anyway, here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for any type of necklace. Once again, I am talking to women over 50, who might be a bit heavier than they were at age 20, or who might even be big blimpos like me. (Deal with it. A spade is a spade.) And… you don’t have to agree with my rules… this is not science class… it’s info-tainment based on 63 years of scientific study. Memorize it.
22. How Long is the Necklace on You? That gorgeous pendant you’re lusting after is not going to be as long on you as it is on the dummy – or on the dummy model. For example, if the pendant in the photo hangs down to the model’s mid-chest area, it’s going to be a choker on women like me. Plan accordingly. A fat old lady gasping for breath is not a paragon of elegance.
23. Name Necklaces: A woman over 50 shouldn’t wear her name on a necklace. (If you don’t know your name by now, you might as well give it up.)
24. Round Pendants for Plus Sizes: Round pendants (and designs with rounded edges) look best on round women. Sharp angles without a feminine flow will look too Yang on your Yin.
25. Handmade Pendants: Hammered gold, hand-carved jade, hand-cast silver, or anything that looks one-of-a-kind even if it’s mass-manufactured in China, usually gets more status-points than a pendant that anyone can buy.
26. Silver is Affordable: Silver looks a lot like white gold, especially in photos. I’ll bet stainless steel is the same.
27. Vermeil: Gold-filled (coated, plated, dipped, whatever) pendants and necklaces are fine for commoners like us. I doubt your necklace is going to get banged around like a bangle… and if you’re doing something kinky that rubs the 18k gold off your plated metal necklace… I don’t want to know about it.
28. Substantial: Don’t buy an openwork pendant that’s too lacy and delicate unless you’re Stevie Nicks.
29. Christmas Jewelry: Round openwork pendants shaped like snowflakes, wreaths, and other December adornments are somewhat middle class. Seasonal jewelry just doesn’t look as valuable as generic, year-round stuff. (If your hubby, daughter or Porsche mechanic buys you a snowflake pendant, you should wear it… but don’t spend your own hard-earned money on jewelry that can’t be worn in July.)
30. Ethnic Pendants: Asian Buddhas, ethnic designs, mandalas, and other universally spiritual icons have that “je ne sais quoi” … especially when the pendant is something plundered from a dig in China, Morocco or Southwest Native lands. You and I, of course, can’t afford museum quality jewelry, so look for something with a similar vibe. Unfortunately, traditional religious symbols like crosses don’t have that same caché… unless you’re a rapper... or your cross is made of big turquoise stones (assembled by real Native Americans).
31. Asymmetrical Design: Asymmetrical designs often look more expensive than other styles. If you like extreme symmetry, consider art deco.
32. Fake Jewelry for Women Over 50: One good thing about being an older woman is that fake jewelry is assumed to be real until proven otherwise. You can get away with a lot more than your daughter can… especially when your CZs are a realistic size.
33. Fake Gemstones: Educate yourself about gems, learn to spot elegant fakes (manmade or composite), and buy those instead. For example, light-colored or white jade (Chinese nephrite) is often more valuable than green (jadeite). I didn’t know that until a friend remarked on my inexpensive pale jade pendant. So, while I would never wear a bright green fake, I would definitely wear a fake pale jade pendant. It’s not as cliché.
34. Composite Gemstones: Learn to love composite turquoise, composite coral, Majorica pearls, doublet gemstones, etc. This stuff makes jewelry almost affordable again. (I dislike most synthetic opals.)
35. Pearl Necklaces: Pearls are your friend. If you’re chubby or you’re tall with broad shoulders, you’ll never be able to afford diamonds that look proportional to your silhouette. Decent freshwater and baroque pearls are reasonable in price. Mix real with fake and most people won’t know.
36. TV Jewelry: Even though some of the goodies on shopping channels are what I call “nursing home jewelry”, you can also find good stuff once in a while. I often wear a pearl ring (Michael Valitutti) from TV and everyone fawns over it. I love telling people it was under $200.
37. Quartz and Agate Pendants: Huge slices of semiprecious and semi-semiprecious stones, as well as shells and bone, make large, earthy, affordable pendants that people can actually see. The irregularities found in natural materials give you an expensive artisanal look. Who wants a pendant with a tiny chip of (insert semiprecious gem of choice) when you can have a huge chunk of druzy quartz, teal agate, or even plain beach rock inserted with a few dinky molecules of diamond? Just be careful to look for quality design and workmanship when it comes to abalone and mother of pearl. Some sea-gem pieces look like they’re from ticky-tacky beach shops for tourists.
38. Start with Expensive: When browsing through a jewelry site, start with the most expensive (high to low search) and work your way down. This will give you some idea of the general price range and it’s a good way to see the difference between the good stuff and the affordable stuff.
Chunky Funky Beats Prissy Fussy
The following tips are the result of millions of years of trial and error on my own short, stocky peasant body. In other words, if it looks good on me, it’ll look good on almost anyone.
39. Statement Jewelry: I believe older women should wear (mostly) large statement jewelry. Sure… I wear my big stuff in an attempt to distract people’s gaze from my own fat tummy, but I think all women over 50 (even skinny models on AARP) look better in substantial, eye-catching, signature pieces.
40. Matching Jewelry: A matched set of jewelry looks fussy and contrived to me even if you didn’t buy it as a set. Why would you purposely want to look like you’re insecure with jewelry and accessories? Go artsy! Get expressive!
41. Mixing Metals: I’ve always loved mixed metals. If this feels all wrong to you, get a piece of jewelry made of two-toned or tri-colored gold or similarly hued metals – to tie it all together. However, you don't really need a two-toned chain to wear an assortment of metals… just make sure the jewelry has the same mood or level of formality.
42. Versatile Jewelry: The best necklaces – and earrings and bracelets – are a little bit funky and different so they don’t fit into a specific category like: daywear, occasionwear, officewear, churchwear.
43. Make it Casual: If you have a fancy gold (or goldtone) pendant with diamonds (or CZs) and you want to adapt it for daytime, take it off the prissy chain and put it on a suede cord or a hand-dyed silk ribbon.
44. Jewelry with Meaning: The most memorable jewelry is something that comes with a story. A Caucasian chick in the development where I used to live was married to a Desi (South Asian Indian). I commented on her large, beautiful, silver pendant which has become her signature piece, and she told me about going to India and choosing the necklace. Turns out it was a handmade silver whistle bought from a silver craftsman. She took her “pendant” apart and blew a note for me. (Hope I have the story right, C.)
45. Kitty Kitsch: No angel, elephant, horse, rainbow, heart, kitty, puppy, butterfly or unicorn pendants. There are exceptions, like silver heart pendants in Balinese style, but the other exceptions are usually out of your price range.
46. How big is too big? If you can imagine it on Elton John, it’s probably close to the right size.
In the end, you should have one or two good pieces to pass onto your daughters. And, if you don’t have real jewelry at this point in your life, everything is so expensive now that you’ll probably end up buying good fakes or semi-semiprecious jewelry. I think “fake” is the solution for my lost pendant… or maybe something substantial in silver.
And, here is the most important rule for buying fine or fake jewelry:
47. Trust your eyes, not the price.
We’ve all seen gaudy necklaces that cost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars. And, we’ve all seen handmade pendants on Etsy with better design than many “name brand” pendants. Trust your instincts… and go big whenever possible.
Photo Credits: Most of the photos are from Prshots.com. Others are composites from the sites below.
- Main Photo: Phase Eight (around $60).
- Tina Boomerina Jade Pendant: Own photo. Pendant belonged to my mother.
- Fine Jewelry That Shows Up: Links of London Timeless Stirling Silver Large Necklace ($275), Links of London Effervescence 18k Rose Gold & Diamond Globe ($5,250), Links of London Timeless Stirling Silver Large Arch Necklace ($275), Flower Circle Fashion Pendant Rose Gold Over Sterling Silver allurez.com ($172). (I have the Allurez pendant.)
- Big Pendants for Older Women: The following Etsy stores - Jade pendant at HouseOfVintageOnline ($495), Buddhist Medallion Necklace at galerieTAO ($208), Druzy Quartz Medallion at LaurenRolfeJewelry ($265).
- Two Pendants: Druzy/Pearls & Jade: Own photo. I'm wearing same jade pendant with a druzy/pearl necklace from Neiman Marcus or Last Call.
- Will a Tiny Solitaire Show up on You? One carat solitaire ($2,796.50) and Leaf Motif Pendant in Silver with CZs ($59.95), both from Ross-Simons. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have a diamond solitaire... it's just too much money for me. And, it won't show from a distance. If you know someone who wants to buy me one, I would wear it on a short chain and layer it with bigger stuff. I love the Ross Simon closeouts.
- How Long Will a Necklace be on YOU? John Lewis. This one seems to have sold out... or else it's only on the UK John Lewis site (20 Pounds).
- Large Pendants Good Sizes: Be-Jewelled Silver Amber Pendant at John Lewis ($117), Thomas Sabo Glam & Soul Hand of Fatima Pendant at House of Fraser (540 British Pounds Stirling), Javanese Jasmine Pendant at Novica ($62).
- Are Diamonds a Girl's Best Friend? All pendants from Macys.com. Le Vian Brown Cord Multistone Pendant - which I want so badly - ($1,247), D'Oro by Effy Diamond Flower Pendant ($3,412.50 - yikes!), Turquoise Circle Pendant ($131).
- Turquoise is a Girl's Best Friend: Both from alltribes.com. Santo Domingo Turquoise Pendant ($770), Turquoise and Spiny Oyster Necklace ($750).
- Large Statement Necklaces for Women Over 50: Photo of Iris Apfel (jewelry muse), the best places for large semi-semiprecious-costume jewelry worthy of Miss Iris are Neiman Marcus and Last Call. Nest Agate Necklace ($295), Devon Leigh Turquoise & Coral Necklace ($795), Jose & Maria Barrera Golden Mother of Pearl Pendant ($615).
Read More Great Fashion Tips for Women Over 50 - ish:
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