Intriguing allure, fascinating appeal, refined beauty… It’s all about the choker, a tight fitting necklace worn high on the neck. The history of the choker goes as far back as the 18th century during the French Revolution, when women wore a thin red collar with a small bow as a sign of solidarity with the victims of the revolution.
The choker was typically of an openwork gem-set band design. Renowned artists depicted heroines of their paintings adorned with this inimitable item which defined dresses that were very sumptuous on their own.
History’s most famous chokers can be found in Degas ballerina paintings. All Degas’s dancers wore black ribbons around their neck. The choker was in style during that period, but it also gave the dancer the desired appearance of an elongated neck.
Choker from a ribbon or gem-set band gradually transformed into a dog collar or “collier de chien’’ in French mostly pronounced by sophisticated people. The collar is characterized with a “plaque de cou” as a centerpiece, terminating by a ribbon or multiple strands of small pearls.
The history narrates that Queen Alexandra, queen consort of Edward VII of England popularized the style by wearing multiple strands of close fitting pearls to conceal scar on the neck. Worn alone or in combination with longer necklaces, the collar became the central iconic element in Edwardian jewelry fashion.
In France the most notable pieces were created by the eminent House of Chaumet. The illustrious item was created around the year 1905: the “Belle Epoque pearl and diamond” collier de chien, featuring fourteen natural saltwater pearls and a natural freshwater pearl, sold at Christie’s Geneva “Magnificent Jewels” in 2010.
The Art Nouveau style, highly artistic, decorative, rich, spicy, lush, was intended to enhance the female beauty. The great maestro of the epoque-Rene’ Jules Lalique, before becoming master glassmaker, created unique items highlighting nature as the embodiment of femininity. His astonishing collier de chien especially plaques have become a part of important private and museum collections.
Choker “Anemones’’, 1897-1900, comprising of the plaque featuring anemon flowers made of opals, constructed with sinuous lines typical of the epoque studded with diamonds, finishing by fourteen strands of natural pearls, Thomas Faerber Collection.
“Eagles and pine trees” choker plaque made of enamel and opal, mounted in gold, 1899-1901, Calouste Gulbekian Museum.
Collier de chien “Cats” masterfully made of carefully cut glass carre’ alternated with diamonds, mounted in yellow gold, 1906-1908, Calouste Gulbekian Museum.
A classic strand of pearls worn close around the neck has also been a favourite choker style for most of the 20th and 21th centuries.
A most unusual and highly decorative jewel has undergone multiple changes over time due to new ideas, sources of inspiration, unconventional materials, important precious gems.
The Patiala Ruby Choker , Cartier, 1931, now restored and restrung to the original design by Cartier Tradition, Geneva, 2012. An Indian-inspired superb jewellery piece features six strands of ruby beads ended with six ruby cabochons mounted in platinum with diamonds, continuing by pearl losanges, terminating by five strands of ruby beads.
Iconic Tubogas choker by Bvlgari, created in 1974, in two colour gold with Greek silver coins. Tubogas jewel is designed as flexible bands made of two long strips of metal with raised edges which interlock into one another, requiring no soldering. The sliding claps enable adjustment and perfect fit around the wearer’s neck. Coins, as central elements of the choker, are staters from the mint of Corinth(4th century B.C.). The coin at the centre is mounted, showing its verso: Pegasus, the others show the recto: helmeted Athena in profile.
A magnificent platinum, sapphire and diamond choker necklace by Alexandre Reza, created in 1975 from “The Extraodrinary Jewels” of Alexandre Reza Exhibition at Sotheby’s representing a unique, showstopping item, comprising of diamond pave’ lace, intricately designed and masterfully crafted, with impressive oval-cut Ceylan sapphires weighing 146,10 cts, from the unique collection of gems belonging to the great collector Alexandre Reza.
Bulgari represented Magical reflections choker from Giradini Italiani High Jewellery collection, which distinguishes with intricate geometric structure. This unique of its own choker composes of folded circles meticulously crafted and set with diamond pave’ of 29,41ct within 6 round-cut diamonds weighing 12,43ct, alternating with pendants including 11 pear-shaped diamonds, totalling 19,54ct, round-cut diamonds and 4 pear-shaped diamonds weghing 5,71 and 4,20cts respectively.
Giampiero Bodino, Milan-based jeweler, who stands out with his unique and distinctive style, created inimitable precious chokers, inspired by the Italian Renaissance, combined with contemporary aesthetic. Chimera choker, painstakingly handcrafted by highly skilled artisans, made of rose gold originally articulated. Gracious chimera figures delicately soldered on the gold are studded with diamonds. The gorgeous floral ornament embellished with oval-cut and pear-shaped diamonds is a sumptuous centerpiece of this one-off item.
Fabio Salini, well-known for his iconic chokers, signature pieces, delicately constructed to embody the creative genius of the Roman jeweler.
An oriental style choker containing carefully carved jade blocks with rubies mounted in white gold, alternated with ruby studded circles, suspending pear-shaped pearls.
Telaio choker made of Salini’s favourite material-rock crystal beads, that gives a piece brightness and freshness, combined with white gold bars with multicoloured pear-shaped sapphires.
Nowadays the most diffused jewellery piece between 19th and 20th centuries, sought-after amongst the royals and fashion’s aficionados is highly appreciated being either a simple collar or an extremely bejewelled choker is a perfect complement for your looks that can delight the eye, break the hearts, give emotions.