Mademe Forestier is a middle class lady. She is married to a minor clerk in the Ministry of Education. She wishes she had more than what she has now in her life.
Mademe Forestier gets an invitation from her husband to a ball, that took him forever to get. But, she said she can't go because she has no dress or no jewelry to wear to the ball. So she gets frustrated at her husband.
Her husband allows her to get a dress with the money he saved for a hunting trip so she can get a dress for the ball. She goes and gets a dress and then she complains she has no jewelry so she goes and borrows a necklace from her good friend, Mademe Loisel.
They arrive home at 4AM from the ball and Mademe Forestier realizes that the necklace she had on her neck at the beginning of the night is now gone. So now she has to try and find a new necklace so they can replace the one they lost.
They had to borrow thirty-six thousand francs so they could get a new necklace. They had to move to a smaller apartment, fire their maid, and work extra jobs so they could pay off the necklace.
It took them ten years to pay the necklace off. Mademe Forestier runs into Mademe Loisel. She tells her the whole story on how she lost the necklace and its taken her ten years to pay it off, but then she finds out that the necklace was only plaster and it was only 500 francs.