The diamond necklace 2018
Jewellery box, fabric, book
L50 x W20 x H28cm
Photo by Tian Khee Siong
If appearance is the first thing that we believe,
If jewellery is about the appearance,
'The necklace' is an 1884 short story by French writer Guy de Maupassant.
Madame Mathilde Loisel has always imagined herself an aristocrat, despite being born into a lower-middle-class family (which she describes as an "accident of fate"). She marries a low-paid clerk who tries his best to make her happy but has little to give. Through lots of begging at work, her husband is able to get an invitation for the both of them to the Ministry of Education party. Mathilde refuses to go, for she has nothing to wear, and wishes not to be embarrassed.
Her husband is upset to see her displeasure and, using all the money that he was saving to buy a hunting rifle, gives Mathilde 400 francs to use. Mathilde buys a dress but is still unhappy because she lacks jewels to wear with it. The couple does not have much money left, so her husband suggests that she should buy flowers to wear with it. After Mathilde disagrees, he suggests borrowing something from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. Mathilde borrows Madame Forestier's fanciest piece, a huge diamond necklace. After attending the party, Mathilde discovers that she has lost the necklace. She tries to find a quick way to replace it. She goes to a shop and buys a similar necklace for 36,000 francs. The couple sells everything they own and must secure loans at high interest rates to pay for the necklace.
Ten years later, while walking along the Champs-Élysées, she suddenly sees Madame Forestier, who barely recognises her in her somewhat shabby state. As the women are talking, Mathilde recounts the story of losing and replacing the necklace, and that it was because of Madame Forestier that she has lived so terribly the past ten years. Horrified, Madame Forestier takes Mathilde's hands, explaining that her original necklace was a fake or "made of paste", and was worth nothing more than 500 francs.