While some jewelry trends come and go, there’s one piece that you’ll routinely reach for in your jewelry collection: initial necklaces. Whether you choose a minimalist design or one bedazzled with diamonds, in gold or sterling silver, worn solo or layered with other necklaces, there’s no wrong way to wear one.
“Nameplates and initial necklaces are so popular and always in style because people love having something that is custom,” says George Khalife, or as you can call him, George the Jeweler. “Not everyone will wear the same letter, which makes it special. It's their own.”
Celebrities love them, and so do your best friend, neighbor, and niece. “Kim Kardashian used to wear the big 'K' necklace, and Carrie Bradshaw had her iconic 'Carrie' nameplate necklace, but I think it comes back to the feeling of personalization more than anything and wearing something unique to you,” says Khalife.
For your own touch of personalized jewelry, we scoured the market for the best initial necklaces. From dainty pendants to bold statement-makers, we found necklaces in a variety of price points and metals that you’ll want to add to your online carts immediately. Nab one for yourself or stock up on a few letters of your loved ones’ names to solidify your spot as the best gift giver of the year.
Meet the Expert
- George Khalife—otherwise known as George the Jeweler—is a Detroit-based jeweler who has created custom initial necklaces for celebrities such as Megan Fox.
Gorjana Wilder Alphabet Necklace
In order to nab the top spot of the best initial necklace, this Gorjana design, with a slightly off-center letter, fits all the “not too” qualities: not too flashy, not too expensive, not too long (or short), and not too subtle. In other words, it’s perfect. It can stand alone for a minimalist look or be paired with other longer necklaces too, especially since it’s so lightweight.
Price at Time of Publish: $60
Metal: 18k gold-plated brass | Length: Adjustable between 16” and 18”
Caitlyn Minimalist Big Letter Necklace
To go big, bold, and budget-friendly, add this oversized sideways letter necklace to your Etsy cart. Not only can you show off your initial, but the artist will also engrave your name into the piece too. At this price, you may want to stock up on a few letters to give to your nieces and girlfriends or as wedding shower presents, especially since they arrive gift-wrapped.
Price at Time of Publish: $22
Metal: Sterling silver, 18k gold, or rose gold | Length: 14” - 22”
George the Jeweler Initial Medallion Pendant
If you’re interested in investing serious cash in a striking initial necklace, this is the one. There’s nothing subtle about it, but this stunning, seriously eye-catching design will prove to be a standout piece in your jewelry collection. Choose between 14k yellow, white, or rose gold, as well as a 16-inch or 18-inch chain or no chain at all.
Price at Time of Publish: $450
Metal: 14k yellow, white, or rose gold | Length: 16”, 18”, or no chain
Ten Wilde Sideways Initial Necklace
For an initial necklace with a twist (quite literally), choose one with a sideways initial, like this Ten Wilde necklace. It’s sweetly petite and matches any other jewelry you already own. At this price point and with this not-so-imposing design, this necklace makes a great personalized gift, whether for the holidays, for bridesmaids or just because.
Price at Time of Publish: $58
Metal: Gold | Length: 16”
PDPAOLA Letter Necklace
Initial necklaces can be sweet and petite, they can be oversized and glamorous, or they can land somewhere in the middle, just like this initial necklace from PDPAOLA. Its bold (but not too big) capital letter of your choice is circled by colorful gemstones, including tiger eye, labradorite, and other crystals of all colors. Adjust this pendant to the length of your choosing thanks to its adjustable chain. It’s bound to catch eyes—and many “where did you get your necklace?” questions—without being too distracting.
Price at Time of Publish: $90
Metal: 18k gold-plated sterling silver | Length: Adjustable from 15.7” to 19.7”
Tiny Tags Gold Initial Circle Necklace
For a dainty addition to your jewelry collection, invest in one of these Tiny Tag circle necklaces. It’s perfectly petite. Wear it solo or layer it with multiple necklaces of different lengths for a fuller look. Not only can you choose the initial (or initials) of your choice, but you can personalize it with any word, date, or name of your liking—as long as it’s no longer than eight characters.
Price at Time of Publish: $110
Metal: 14k gold | Length: 16”, 18”, 20”, or 24”
Best 14k Gold
LeMel The Initial Necklace
What’s better than an initial necklace? Multiple initials on the same necklace. This delicate 14k yellow gold custom necklace lets you monogram it with two initials—yours, your children’s, or a combination of any kind—as well as a round diamond, baguette diamond, or a heart. The chain lengths are also customizable, measuring 16 inches, 18 inches, or adjustable 18 inches with two loops. It’s on the pricier side but worth the splurge for a necklace, you’ll wear for, well, ever.
Price at Time of Publish: $350
Metal: 14k yellow gold | Length: 16”, 18”, or 18” with adjustable loops
Best White Gold
BYCHARI Initial Pendant Necklace
Simple, straightforward, and oh-so-pretty—that’s this white gold initial necklace in a few words. This design is available in yellow and rose gold as well, but the white gold version is particularly worthy of adding to your jewelry box since it strikes a balance between fresh and timeless. White gold can be pricey, but the quality is worth the investment.
Price at Time of Publish: $275
Metal: 14k white, yellow, or rose gold | Length: 18”
AMYO Sterling Silver Initial Disc Necklace
If silver is your jewelry material of choice, add this sterling silver initial necklace to your online cart. This engraved disc design will forever be in fashion, and since it’s made of sterling silver, you can rest easy that it’ll last forever too. (In addition to being hypoallergenic, as well as lead- and nickel-free.) It’s also available in a gold vermeil version too.
Price at Time of Publish: $90
Metal: Sterling silver | Length: Adjustable between 15” and 17”
Mejuri Cursive Letter Charm
If you already have a chain, opt for a letter charm, like this elegant cursive alphabet set, instead. That way, you can personalize your necklace however you’d like, whether using one charm for your initial or pairing a few letters together to represent your partner, children, or dog—you name it. These charms are made out of 14k solid gold, so it promises not to oxidize or tarnish, and you’ll immediately have an heirloom piece on your hands. (Or, um, around your neck.)
Price at Time of Publish: $98
Metal: 14k gold | Length: 7.8 mm - 10.3 mm
Baublebar 18K Gold Enamel Bubble Initial Necklace
No need to take your initial necklace so seriously. This bubble option from BaubleBar gives the classic necklace a colorful twist, as the gold letter of your choice sits on an eye-catching enamel background. Choose your letter and color (options include pink, cobalt, red, orange, white, and others), then happily wear this cheerful necklace for years to come. And it will last for years since it’s made out of 18k gold-plated sterling silver.
Price at Time of Publish: $98
Metal: 18k gold-plated sterling silver | Length: 18”
What to Look for in Initial Necklaces
Before clicking “add to cart,” take a close look at the material the initial necklace is made of. If you have sensitive skin, avoid anything with nickel in it—even gold-plated pieces can have nickel hiding underneath. Otherwise, you can narrow down which material you choose, oftentimes gold or sterling silver, based on look and budget. Gold can be the most expensive but also the highest quality.
The optimal length of an initial necklace depends on two factors: the size of the pendant and the size of your neck. Khalife recommends a necklace between 16 and 18 inches long for a petite pendant, while more oversized pendants look best on longer chains, between 18 and 20 inches. “If you're trying to make a statement, go for the 20 inches,” he says.
How do you style initial necklaces?
The good news: there’s no wrong way to style an initial necklace. Most designs are neutral enough to pair with most outfits, from a work-friendly button-down to a cut-down-to-there going-out top.
Khalife is a big fan of layering necklaces, which allows you to mix and match pieces from your jewelry collection. “Layering is a fantastic way to be creative with your styling. It also allows you to make a bigger statement with your pieces,” he says. The smaller the pendant, the higher it should sit; the larger the pendant, the lower it should sit.
“My favorite ways to layer are to start with a choker, maybe something big and chunky, followed by the initial pendant or a name pendant, and then perhaps some statement pendant like my classic Diamond Virgin Mary Pendant or classic Large Diamond Cross pendant,” he says.
What's the best jewelry material for everyday wear?
“When it comes to jewelry, you get what you pay for, so you want to be mindful of the material,” says Khalife. He doesn’t hesitate to name his favorite: “To me, gold is the best,” he says. “I think gold is the most luxurious and flatters most skin tones. Because it's a high-quality material, it's also great for everyday wear.”
Selecting a high-quality material means it’ll last—no tarnishing, no turning your skin green, and no breaking out in a mystery rash. Gold can be pricey though, so for a more budget-friendly option, go for silver or gold plated. (Just skip anything with nickel in it; that’s the most likely material to cause sensitive skin to awry.) If you’re opting for an initial necklace with diamonds in it, Khalife recommends white gold since it’ll make the diamonds sparkle more than yellow gold.
Why Trust Byrdie
Full-time freelance writer (and full-time jewelry lover) Megan McCarty has been writing about the best of the best of fashion and design for over 15 years, and her work can be seen in InStyle, Domino, Architectural Digest, Bustle, and more. For this piece, McCarty scoured the jewelry market and interviewed a jeweler.