Literally and figuratively — the necklace is big this year. Throughout recent seasons, designers have supersized handbags into steamer trunk proportions. And they’ve elevated the ordinary stiletto to stratospheric heights.

Now, after achieving such overwhelming bulk with accessories like bags and shoes, they have turned their attention to jewellery — in particular, the necklace.

Leading international brands including Burberry, Lanvin and Louis Vuitton went for the jugular this fall, burdening women’s décolleté with glass chunks resembling massive precious and semi-precious stones.

This is costume jewellery gone berserk. So pack away your simple strand of pearls, your heirloom chokers and discreet pendants. You can bring them out another day.

“This is no season for the faint of heart,” says Oriella Stillo, owner of Accessity on Cumberland St. in Yorkville.

“You’ve got to have confidence to wear these necklaces,” she says.

These muscular necklaces riff on jewellery’s many traditional roles — as an objet for self-decoration, as an amulet to ward off evil and as a striking symbol of personal wealth. They are statement pieces.

While, on the surface, the times may not seem right for such showiness, Stillo insists that’s not the case. “During the Depression of the 1930s big Bakelite and Lucite jewellery was popular. Women needed something to make them feel good,” she says.

No one is fooling anyone — which is why the ostentatious necklace with rocks as big as baseballs still works even in this hard economic era. Stillo says she retails big necklaces as inexpensively as $250. “What dress can you find that will give you that wow factor?” she asks.
Jewellery hasn’t been this exaggerated since the go-big-or-go-home ’80s.

During that power decade, jewellery was big and bold and closely replicated the real thing. Back then, by wearing big fake jewels you were attempting to fool people into believing you had social cachet you just didn’t possess.

But these days the necklaces are conspicuously costume. They are not vintage or replicas. The glass stones are larger than life and created in smoky neutral colours, clear or black.

As well, the elements of the necklace are often crudely held together with unusual materials — grosgrain ribbon at Lanvin for example, or heavy metal chains and indelicate hardware popular at Louis Vuitton and Burberry.

They are ferocious these glass tigers. They’ve got bite. But everyone knows they’re just for show.