Jewelry Armor:
Torques and Chokers

This powerful necklace is a symbol of strength and protection.

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Over the last several years, lucky charms have held a dominating position in the diamond jewelry landscape. One motif was followed by another and another and on and on. In consideration of all that the world has gone through recently, it’s easy to understand why people wanted a symbolic jewel to ward off evil and attract good energy.

Now the idea of jewelry as a form of protection is being expanded into high diamond designs. I am not talking about oversized diamond clovers or pavé-set diamond horseshoes. Instead, designers are revamping the ancient idea of jewelry as armor into bold torque diamond and gold necklaces and wide solid gold chokers lit up with diamonds. “They lend the wearer a feeling of strength,” says fashion writer and entrepreneur Josh Peskowitz.

Casey Perez Arroyo Choker

Torques, in particular, have a history of being supreme warrior wear. The silhouette, which today is loosely defined as a neck ring with an opening, was worn throughout historic cultures by men. Ancient Romans sported them. So did the Vikings. And other cultures had them too but, the Celts—who lived throughout Western Europe during the Iron Age—perfected the look. A one pound Celtic gold example on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City shows the mastery.

The term for the style evolved from the Latin word torques and means twist. Some torques, like the Celtic one at the Met, have a twisted metal design but the embellishment is by no means necessary to the style. The most contemporary torque in the Met collection, made by master goldsmith Daniel Brush in 2014, is an engraved aluminum tube sprinkled with diamonds.

Designers making diamond studded torques now contour the hard gold surfaces into all kinds of shapes from slight arcs to flat expanses. Then they take their signature motifs and make the form uniquely their own. Some texture the gold. Others might paint a pattern with enamel. All the best examples are something fierce. Or you could say badass, like what aviators are to eyewear—or a bomber jacket is to fashion.

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Tiffany & Co.

Diamond chokers are the soulmates of torques. Of course, not all diamond chokers but the styles that are solid metal and have an arms and armor vibe. Some designers working the look are inspired by ancient torques but they have completed the circle on the design and transformed the concept into a choker. Others take design cues from the neck rings worn by the Maasai of East Africa.

Something that is actually even closer to what fine jewelry designers are making now is the ring chokers worn by Dora Milaje (pronounced “dora-meh-LAH-shay”) in Wakanda Forever. It’s a style that was closely echoed on the Golden Globes red carpet this year by Angela Bassett AKA Queen Ramonda of Wakanda. The regal actress wore a wide Messika choker punctuated with giant diamonds.

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Angela Bassett is far from the only person to wear a solid statement diamond and gold choker on the red carpet. Amanda Seyfried sported an extraordinary Almasika collar with a languid line of 14 carats of diamonds flowing from one side to the next at the Time 100 Gala last year.

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Jewelry designer Lorraine West riffed on her signature neck rings, famously worn by Lizzo at the 2022 Met Gala, to create a hinged gold choker open in the front with large round diamond accents.

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Keke Palmer put on a divine design for the New York Film Critics Awards in December.

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At the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Zendaya took the wide solid choker idea to even higher highs.

The stylish actress, working in concert with her image architect Law Roach, paired her color blocked Armani Privé strapless cutout gown with a pavé-set diamond choker punctuated with colorful gems. The effect was as empowered as could be.