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Cluster Necklaces

When a simple strand won’t do, the cluster necklace quite a statement. Amplifying the dazzle with grouped bunches of stones or beads, cluster necklaces can transform a neckline from standard to spectacular.

The idea of the cluster necklace first emerged in the ancient world, with wealthy women of ancient Egypt and Rome often bedecking themselves with strands from which groups of beads or inset stones would dangle. In fact, the sound of the clinking of these stones together, particularly the muted thud against a pearl, was intended in Roman society to alert all in the surroundings to the presence of a wealthy Roman lady.

Cluster necklaces evolved to become increasingly opulent over history, with the great European royals of the 18th and 19th centuries popularizing the repeated brilliance of encrusted cluster pieces.

Quick Facts

  • Cluster necklaces are also known as bib necklaces, as they expand across the chest similar to that of a baby’s bib
  • Marie Antoinette was once associated with an incredibly ostentatious take on the cluster necklace that comprised close to 3,000 carats of diamonds split between over 600 stones. During a time of political turmoil in France, this is considered to have contributed to the public’s distrust in Antoinette
  • A striking cluster necklace designed by Van Cleef & Arpels for the Princess Salimah Aga Kahn had a detachable emerald and diamond cluster that transformed into a brooch, with the remaining stone-studded necklace also convertible into two bracelets. The set sold for $662,290 at a Christie's auction in 1995

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