A young woman named Mathilde, born into a family of artisans, married a little clerk in the Ministry of Education.
She was unhappy with her simple life and longed for luxury and wealth. One day, her husband brought home an invitation to a prestigious party at the Ministry.
Mathilde was upset because she had no suitable dress to wear, so her husband gave her money to buy one. However, she was still unhappy because she had no jewelry to wear with the dress.
I'm utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear. I shall look absolutely no one.
Her husband suggested borrowing jewelry from her wealthy friend, Madame Forestier.
Mathilde chose a beautiful diamond necklace and wore it to the party, where she was the center of attention and admired by all. After the party, she discovered that the necklace was missing. Unable to find it, Mathilde and her husband decided to replace the necklace with a similar one, which cost them 36,000 francs. They borrowed money and lived in poverty for ten years to pay off the debt.
One day, Mathilde met Madame Forestier and decided to tell her the truth about the necklace.
Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most only five hundred francs!
To her shock, Madame Forestier revealed that the original necklace was an imitation and worth only 500 francs. Mathilde had spent ten years of her life paying off a debt for a necklace that was nearly worthless.