14K White Gold Three Prong Graduating Diamond Tennis Necklace Hames Akken
14K White Gold Three Prong Graduating Diamond Tennis Necklace Hames Akken

Diamond Tennis Necklaces: A Buying Guide


Diamond tennis necklaces are popular and very versatile. Learn more about these jewelry pieces and the best design options and styles for 2022.

6 Minute Read

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Why?
The timeless diamond tennis necklace is a continuous strand of individually set gemstones flexibly linked together. Tennis necklaces are popular and very versatile. You can wear them to a black-tie event or casually with a T-shirt. They can be any color, layered with other necklaces and are available in all metals. Let's take a closer look at some traditional as well as some trendy diamond necklace styles so you can find the best option for your budget.
14K White Gold Straight Diamond Tennis Necklace James Allen
A classic diamond tennis necklace, 14 K white gold and 15-ctw diamonds.
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at James Allen

What is a Tennis Necklace?

The classic tennis necklace is a continuous strand of individually set gemstones linked together that completely encircle the neck, leaving no open gaps and is flexible. Tennis necklaces can be any length from choker length and beyond.

Since the strands can bend, these necklaces lay smoothly against the neck and chest. They will move with you and have an attractive, organic quality. You might find tennis necklaces also called eternity or rivière necklaces. Rivière means "river" in French, and elegantly characterizes this jewelry's fluid movement.

Why Do They Call it a Tennis Necklace?

Diamond tennis necklaces aren't new. Some trace the roots of this jewelry style to Napoleonic France in the early nineteenth century. However, the association of this type of necklace with the term "tennis" is far more recent.

The term "tennis" was actually first applied to a bracelet made in this style. In a US Open match, the American tennis player Chris Evert wore a delicate and flexible single-strand diamond bracelet. During play, it was thrown from her wrist. She famously stopped the competition and refused to restart play until the bracelet was located and found. After this widely publicized event, the term "tennis" was used to describe this jewelry style for both bracelets and necklaces.

When did this event take place? Although you'll find many sources that date it to 1987, in an article for The Adventurine, Marion Fasel pins down the actual year of this US Open match to 1978.

Can You Wear a Diamond Tennis Necklace Every Day?

Pairing fine jewelry with casual attire became very popular during the 1980s and early 1990s. The tennis style was just perfect for this trend. Today, thanks in part to key social media influencers, the demand for tennis necklaces continues to grow. One idea recently shared online that adds versatility is to wrap a tennis necklace around your wrist twice for a wrap-style bracelet. The options are endless with an investment in a diamond tennis necklace.

Both men and women can wear tennis styles for formal and informal occasions. Since it's so versatile and has withstood the test of time, tennis style jewelry is very desirable. The Chris Evert incident notwithstanding, it's also a very secure way to wear diamonds and gemstones. Each stone in a tennis necklace or bracelet is carefully mounted into its own link. This minimizes the chances that you'll lose a stone. It's no wonder they remain so popular.

How to Buy a Diamond Tennis Necklace

Want to keep things simple, classic, and sophisticated? Consider a single delicate chain with a low total diamond carat weight.

14K White Gold Straight Diamond Tennis Necklace James Allen
This 14K white gold tennis necklace has 5 ctw of round-cut diamonds set on a 16-inch strand.
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at James Allen

If you want to make a bigger impact, pump up the carat weight of your strand. Additionally, layering multiple strands of different lengths will also add lots of volume to your look.

Straight Eternity Necklace in 14k White Gold Blue Nile
You can wear this 14K white gold tennis necklace with 7-ctw diamonds and an 18-inch strand below the 5-ctw, 16-inch necklace.
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at Blue Nile

How to Wear a Diamond Tennis Necklace

Even with a style as classic and elegant as the tennis necklace, jewelry makers can update the original design in many ways.

Using Prongs to Create the Illusion of Fancy Shapes

Traditionally, tennis necklaces feature round diamonds, each set with four prongs. If you alter the number of prongs holding the diamonds, the outline of each link will change.

For example, thanks to a few small design changes, the diamond tennis necklace shown below has a dramatically different visual impact than a traditional piece. At first glance, the diamonds seem to have triangular or perhaps heart-shaped cuts.

14K White Gold Three Prong Graduating Diamond Tennis Necklace Hames Akken
The diamonds featured in this necklace have a distinctly angular appearance, but looks can be deceiving.
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at James Allen

However, these diamonds are simply rounds set with three prongs. Setting the individual links so that the stone's body hangs beneath the strand also strengthens the illusion. Since fancy-cut diamonds are much more difficult to source and match than rounds, especially in such quantities, this tennis necklace really makes a bold statement.

Setting Styles

If done properly, prong settings are a secure mounting option. However, there are many other ways to mount diamonds securely onto the links of a tennis necklace, such as a bezel setting.

Natori x Angara Hexagonal Bezel-Set Diamond Tennis Necklace Angara
This 14K white gold tennis necklace features round diamonds set in hexagonal bezel settings.
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at Angara

Combining multiple new elements in a single piece can also result in a beautiful and distinctive tennis necklace. 

Natori x Angara Hexagonal Diamond Choker Tennis Necklace Angara
The diamonds in this choker-length tennis necklace from Angara are placed in distinctive hexagonal bezel settings. The fact that this strand is only 14 inches long also makes it a great layering piece.
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at Angara

Mixing Diamond Carat Weights

Jewelry designers can also create unique tennis necklaces by mixing diamonds of different cuts and carat weights. Depending on the contrast between the stones, the visual impact can range from subtle to bold.

Alternating Diamond Eternity Necklace in 14k White Gold Blue Nile
This 14K white gold tennis necklace features round diamonds of varying carat weights in addition to three-prong settings, which allows the bodies of the stones to hang below the strand.
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at Blue Nile

Another fresh take on the tennis necklace is the graduated strand. Jewelry enthusiasts are probably familiar with graduated styles in pearl necklaces. However, designers can also apply the same principle to diamond tennis necklaces. Graduated strands can have more visual impact and glamour than their traditional counterparts.

14K Yellow Gold Riviera Tennis Necklace (4.00 CTW) Image-1 14K Yellow Gold Riviera Tennis Necklace (4.00 CTW) Image-2 14K Yellow Gold Riviera Tennis Necklace (4.00 CTW) James Allen
This graduated strand of diamonds features stones of different sizes in 14K yellow gold settings.
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at James Allen

Tennis Necklace Styles and Settings

For a fresh take on the traditional tennis necklace design, look for pieces that feature different gemstones.

Natori x Angara Hexagonal Emerald and Diamond Tennis Necklace Angara
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at Angara

You can find necklaces that combine diamonds with other gemstones or even necklaces made entirely without diamonds.

Oval Multicolor Gemstone Eternity Necklace in Sterling Silver Blue Nile
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at Blue Nile

We can't talk about diamond tennis necklaces without discussing the synthetic option. James Allen offers tennis necklaces in many styles and allows you to choose either natural or lab-grown diamonds.

There are benefits to choosing lab-grown stones. Most notably, synthetic diamonds cost significantly less than natural diamonds. If you need to replace a synthetic stone, it's much less expensive.

14K Yellow Gold Straight Lab Created Diamond Tennis Necklace (15.00 CTW - F-G / VS2-SI1) James Allen
James Allen will allow you to choose either natural or lab-grown diamonds for this 14K yellow gold tennis necklace. The lab-grown option will cost only about a third of the price of the natural option.
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at James Allen

Do you have concerns about the quality of lab-grown diamonds? You may wonder if they can match that of natural, mined diamonds. Yes, they can. Currently, synthetic diamonds can be grown in large, high-quality batches. Lab-grown diamonds can have high carat weight as well as excellent color and clarity grades. They may also have the same diamond grading reports that mined diamonds do, so make sure you're comparing prices for stones of the same weight and quality.

Are you worried that synthetic diamonds won't look like natural stones? Rest assured that synthetic and natural diamonds have the same physical and optical properties. Even trained gemologists need special equipment to tell the difference between them. So, if you wear a synthetic diamond tennis necklace, no one will be able to tell just by looking at it.

FAQs for Diamond Tennis Necklaces: A Buying Guide

1) How Much is a Diamond Tennis Necklace?

The average price of a diamond tennis necklace ranges from $4,000-$10,000 but many factors can affect the price. Including the size of the diamonds, the length of the chain and the type of metal used. Additional savings can be found by choosing lab-created diamonds instead of earth-created. There are benefits to choosing lab-grown stones. Most notably, synthetic diamonds cost significantly less than natural diamonds. If you ever need to replace a synthetic stone, it's also much less expensive.

2) Do Tennis Necklaces Break?

The diamond tennis style is a very secure way to wear diamonds and gemstones. Each stone in a tennis necklace or bracelet is carefully mounted into its own link. This minimizes the chances that you'll lose a stone. With any fine piece of jewelry, a safety chain or a security latch is often included with the clasp to provide additional protection if it ever fails.


Emily Frontiere

Emily Frontiere is a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She is particularly experienced working with estate/antique jewelry.

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