Antique Chinese Necklace Buying Guide

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Antique Chinese Necklace Buying Guide

Purchasing an antique Chinese necklace can be difficult with the small amount of consumer information available. This guide will give an idea of a few aspects of these antique necklaces that can help in the decision-making process. When buying an antique necklace, the most important things to consider are the different styles of necklaces available, the materials that the necklaces are constructed from and the best care and maintenance for an antique necklace. This guide will also comprise factors to consider for purchasing anantique Chinese necklace.

History of Antique Chinese Necklaces

Jewellery making in Asia has been around for over 5,000 years. Much of the jewellery made in China was made from silver as opposed to gold, and many pieces were amulets that were created with certain symbols and dragons. Jade was another popular material used in jewellery and necklaces, valued for its hardness, durability, and beauty and the thought that it had the ability to keep away bad luck and illness.  Colour was often symbolically used in jewellery and necklace designs. For example, the colours yellow and gold were seen as signs of royalty. In fact, the rulers of ancient China were called ‘Huang Di’, which translates into ‘Yellow Emperor’. The colour red was used to ward away evil and bad luck. These colours were often incorporated into many jewellery designs. Due to the perceived powerful symbols and designs of many Chinese necklaces and jewellery, many pieces were buried along with their owners upon death to continue the safekeeping and luck these items were thought to possess.

Discover Antique Chinese Necklaces

With such a rich tapestry of history and tradition, the sheer amount of antiques from China is huge. Antique items are typically considered ones that have been crafted over 100 years ago. With such historical significance, antiques are regarded as highly collectable and can be very valuable. Antique Chinese necklaces are a popular collector’s item, although they can be rare and difficult to find. In addition, they are likely to be expensive. However, unlike other pieces of antiques, collectors can have a more intimate relationship with their pieces as they can be worn on the person. Antique necklaces are likely to be elaborate in design and beautiful to look at. They make for good investments and gifts.

Common Materials Used to Make Antique Chinese Necklaces

Antique Chinese necklaces were created from a wide variety of different materials and featured a wealth of different designs. The table below outlines some of the materials that were often used to make these beautiful items.




The hardstone (a semi-precious, durable stone) is often used in Chinese jewellery. The Chinese have metaphorically connected jade with human virtues because of its hardness, durability, and beauty.


This precious metal is highly regarded in Chinese culture. Yellow and gold represent royalty.


A functional and decorative metal often combined with other metals to form bronze.


Derived from an animal’s tusk, this smooth, hard material was often used ceremonially and decoratively by a variety of diverse, ancient cultures.


Porcelain is a light weight, clay-based ceramic that is easily and attractively painted upon and decorated. One concern with this material is that it can be chipped or broken easily.


An attractive metal often used in Chinese Jewellery. This material can tarnish and requires some maintenance to keep its lustre.


This is a metal alloy that combines copper and usually tin. Used in many ornaments throughout history.

Types of Antique Chinese Necklaces

There is a wealth of different types of antique Chinese necklaces, featuring different characteristics that make them truly unique.




A large, dramatic necklace, consisting of a web-like mesh of metal and a base encrusted with stones which dangle for a cascading effect. Often also called a collaret or fringe necklace.


A short necklace that fits snugly around the neck.


A chain or small link necklace that is fairly long and has a single large pendant or tassel.


A short necklace that is strung simply with a line of faceted gems, often increasing in size.


A necklace consisting of several individual strands that are twisted together to produce a rope-like effect.

Factors to Consider When Buying an Antique Chinese Necklace

When purchasing an antique Chinese necklace, there are a few important factors that should be considered. Below is a list of question or concerns that should be thought through before purchasing a particular necklace is decided upon.

Is the item for display or to be worn?

If the item is purely for display, one can consider bigger pieces that are more elaborate and perhaps heavier. If one is buying an item to wear, one can consider pieces that are subtler and that, perhaps, are easily matched with outfits.

Is the piece authentic?

When purchasing items classified as antiques, buyers should be cautious. The only way to ensure that authentic pieces are bought is to do a lot of research into sellers and the item. Another thing to bear in mind is that the Chinese government has deemed it illegal for items to be exported from China that were made before 1797.

What is the provenance of the piece?

This refers to the origins or lineage of the antique that is being purchased. If the seller has information about the item’s origin, and previous ownership, it certifies that the item is an antique and can help to officially date it. Proper documentation can help officially date and properly value the item.

Does the piece connect with the buyer personally?

The last factor is something that cannot be measured or learnt about. When buying an object of beauty, it sometimes comes right down to whether or not the buyer likes it and this cannot always be reasoned or quantified.

Typical Features of Antique Chinese Necklaces

This section briefly considers two common features of Chinese necklaces and Chinese jewellery in general.


Jade was prized by the Chinese for its durability, its subtle and translucent colours, and its ‘protective powers’. There was a belief that jade could ward away evil and bad luck. It was also thought to be able to prevent fatigue and delay the decomposition of the body.


Gold was a commonly used precious metal in Chinese jewellery. Like the colour yellow, gold is thought to be the colour of royalty. It was also a sign of wealth and prosperity.

How to Care for Antique Chinese Necklaces

Like any antique item, Antique Chinese necklaces should be properly cared for to maintain their lasting value. Use a mild soap and water mixture to clean jewellery. Avoid applying hair spray or other sprays around these delicate pieces. If an item is made from a particular material, find out the proper way to care for it. For example, silver items may develop tarnishing over time and require proper cleaning with a silver polish to return the piece back to its former lustre. Take care to use the correct product for the individual material, so as not to damage the item. Cleaning items with a toothbrush is not always recommended, as it can leave small scratches and impairments to certain materials. When in doubt, take the item to a professional for cleaning.

Accessories and Add-ons for Antique Chinese Necklaces

With the purchase of an antique Chinese necklace, other items could be considered as well.

  • Other Chinese jewellery – Match a necklace with other Chinese jewellery.
  • Chinese antiques – Invest in a collection of antique Chinese items.
  • Clothes – An outfit that matches the jewellery.
  • A jewellery box

Finding Antique Chinese Necklaces on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique Chinese necklace you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on ‘Asian/ Oriental Antiques’, then ‘Chinese’ and finally ‘Necklaces/ Pendants’ start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Antique Chinese Necklaces on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique Chinese necklaces. For example, to find a jade antique Chinese necklace, type ‘Jade Antique Chinese Necklace’ into the search box, and then click on the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for antique Chinese necklaces with keywords. If you can’t find the exact Chinese necklace you want, try shopping eBay Stores.


There are many types of antique Chinese necklaces available for purchase. Chinese necklaces come in all different styles and are made up of a range of different materials. Personal preference is a large factor in determining the type of necklace to purchase. This guide helps buyers learn more about what to look out for when buying such an item. Search through the various sellers on eBay for more inspiration. The purchase of a high-quality antique, especially if provenance can be shown for the item, is a worthwhile investment. Research will help ensure that you find a piece that is authentic. Once you have collected the information you need, you can buy an antique Chinese necklace safely and securely on eBay.

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