Circling Around Again: The Staple of Statement Necklaces


fred Leighton

Bell & Bird Georgian Green Paste emerald cut stone riviere

Sometime in 2016, I became obsessed with owning a rivière necklace from the Georgian era. Like many collectors of antique jewelry, I am enamored by the character and craft of jewels from this period. I love the cut down collet settings of this necklace that translates into river… of gemstones. Whether to invest in one in paste (the are often as expensive as authentic stones) garnet or amethyst with closed foiled backs—in silver topped gold or high karat gold—with round, oval, emerald or cushion shaped stone cuts was the burning question. Finding the perfect one at a price I could afford was the mission.

The paste riviere I chose

I have no idea why I suddenly had to own one—I always admired rivières from various time periods on other people, preferring my layered pendants and charm necklaces to one bolder piece. I have statement bracelets and rings, so maybe it was just time in my life to add a gutsier piece around my neck. I began seeking out those that were regal  in their simplicity and rich in color. I found quite a few that were authentic and in excellent condition and chose a f paste version with a foiled closed back-the foil—possibly discolored or designed for a shaded  effect in each stone, featuring  light pink/purple with undertones of  yellow in  gold. It is quite unique to others I’d ever seen, which is why I chose it above an oval shaped in a lively deeper amethyst, which I found at the same time.


A Harlequin Riverie from Rowan & Rowan

Rivières defy time and style—they are a statement and staple piece in one. Traditionally 14-16 inches in length, they are individually set in a continuous row of graduating or same size stones. They usually are set with the same variety of stone, with the exception of the very rare multi-hued harlequin styles of the 1700s and more recently, the modern multi-colored Larkspur & Hawk rivières, inspired by the original Georgian style and setting.






Sarah Jessica Parker “Late Show with David Letterman” . (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)

If I weren’t an antique geek, I would definitely choose one by Emily Satloff, the designer behind Larkspur & Hawk’s solid or multi-colored versions. Emily re-created the rivière with an exuberance and elegance, and rendered the period pieces fashionable and relevant for the woman who prefers contemporary pieces and fans like Sarah Jessica Parker, who has been photographed often in a more delicate and larger version, which she often wears together. To achieve a look that is current, she mix geometric shapes such kite, hexagon, and pear shaped gems and pavé sets champagne diamonds to accent the more muted colors set in solid yellow, or yellow with an oxidized finish or rose gold.

Larkspur & Hawk Crazy Quit foil backed necklace

The older cut diamond styles are mesmerizing with their soft glow in candle light and the versions from the 1920s through today, in platinum with open back and a variety of settings and cuts of diamonds look good on every age range and complexion. I would be happy to add an old mine cut round diamond set into silver topped gold to my jewelry collection, but alas my budget at present doesn’t allow. But I have high hopes for the future.

My advice: invest in one antique, retro, vintage or modern style. Whichever gemstone and version you choose—this will wind up being your go-to necklace—the piece that you will only take off to sleep and then wear with everything. As I enter the New Year resolute in the fact that I will be less superstitious, I might still wear a charm necklace that dangles down but it’s my rivière that I will turn when I need to glow on the go.

Katherine Hepburn in Holiday in Paul Flato jewels. Photo courtesy of Rex/Shuttershock