The title of Guy de Maupassant's short story refers to the centerpiece of the narrative and the object that is the catalyst for Mathilde Loisel's difficult life. Mathilde is depicted as a disgruntled, superficial woman who values status and appearances. When her husband receives an invitation to a party hosted by his boss, the Minister of Public Instruction, Mathilde refuses to attend unless she can wear an expensive dress and fine jewelry. She ends up borrowing Madame Forestier's diamond necklace, which she does not know is an inexpensive imitation piece. To Mathilde, the necklace symbolically represents class, status, and wealth, which are superficial and meaningless things.
After losing the necklace, Mathilde buys a genuine diamond necklace for thirty-six thousand francs to replace it. Mathilde and her husband spend their inheritance, make financial concessions, and labor for ten years to pay off the genuine necklace, only to discover that Madame Forestier's necklace was a worthless imitation. Therefore, the necklace is the centerpiece of the story and represents everything material and superficial that Mathilde desires, which leads to her difficult, arduous life. Guy de Maupassant uses the necklace to represent the hollowness of material objects and the vain pursuit of wealth and status.