A choker is a close-fitting necklace worn around the neck. Chokers can be made of a variety of materials, including velvet, plastic, beads, latex, leather, metal, such as silver, gold or platinum, etc. They can be adorned in a variety of ways, including with sequins, studs, or a pendant.

Lily Elsie - popular English actress and singer during the Edwardian era is wearing a choker necklace c. 1907. Rotary Photo
1940s chokers from Life magazine, 1944
The history of the choker dates back thousands of years, to the world’s earliest civilizations, the Sumer empire in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Women in both these ancient worlds wore chokers, often pairing them with other necklaces, for the same reason they wore all jewelry--to protect them and give them power. This was especially true of gold jewelry, which ancient peoples associated with the sun, and lapis, which people in Egypt connected with the life-giving powers of the Nile River.

Historically, chokers were associated with high fashion, but could take on different meanings under different circumstances. In 1798, during the French Revolution, women wore red ribbons around their necks to pay homage to those who met their death at the guillotine. Ballerinas and the upper class in the late 19th century commonly also wore certain types of chokers. However, at that same time, during late 19th century, a plain, thin, red, or black ribbon choker had ties to prostitution, as seen in Manet's Olympia (1861).

Red ribbon choker as a part of fashionable dress during 1790s

In Western culture, high jewelry chokers are visible here and again throughout history, including during the Renaissance, with portraits from that time showing necklaces being worn high on the throat. But the real comeback in the trend of chokers appeared during the time of Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925). Alexandra was the wife of King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910 and, before that, spent some 38 years as the Princess of Wales. During her reigns, she became an influential figure in fashion and popularized one of her favorite pieces of jewelry- the choker necklace.

The tale goes that Alexandra wore chokers to hide a childhood scar on her neck! This just proves that women can go to any length to hide their imperfection, and in this case, even start a jewelry trend.
Chokers continued to be popular through the Art Nouveau period--René Lalique made some of the most beautiful pieces, and the trend also continued into the 1920s, becoming to be known as “dog collars” along the way.

Fine pearl and diamond chokers, like this Edwardian era one owned by William Noble Rare Jewels in Dallas, were popularized in the Belle Epoque (late 19th century) by Alexandra of Denmark during her time as part of the British nobility.

Portrait of Queen Alexandra W. And D. Downey

While there have been occasional resurgences in popular culture--the beaded chokers of the hippie era and the plastic tattoo chokers of the 1990s are two examples that stand out--chokers crafted of fine materials never regained the same popularity they once had.

The word “Choker” can be literally broken up into the phrase “Choke ‘er” and that is what this necklace actually does- it can nearly choke the wearer since it is worn tight on the neck, Hence, it may not be the most comfortable piece of jewelry to wear. Additionally, it is meant to look good on women with thin and slender necks only. So, this piece of jewelry always has a limiting popularity!

In Indian Context, choker acts as a perfect first necklace and provides scope for layering of other necklaces like the sat-lada, gutthupusalu etc. They work very well when teamed with most necklines except boat neck or very high necklines. It is a very versatile piece of jewelry in the sense that it can be paired with most Indian traditional outfits as well as western gowns. It is an ideal choice of necklace to be worn during a wedding, sangeet or a reception.

The ultimate style statement would be to wear a choker with a crisp white shirt where the choker is peeking from below the lapel of the shirt.


Here's a few images of chokers from AURUS!


Explore more necklaces here :


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