The Loisels live in the city of Paris, France in 1880. Madame Loisel desperately yearns for a posh lifestyle. One day her husband arrives home with invitations to a dazzling party. Madame Loisel is excited, yet embarrassed that she will look like a pauper.
Madame Loisel complains about not having an expensive, beautiful dress to wear to the party. She begs her husband for a dress. Monsieur Loisel painfully hands her four hundred francs he saved for a rifle.
Once Madame Loisel purchases a beautiful dress she notices she doesn't have any jewelry to wear. Monsieur Loisel gives her an idea. He tells her to borrow jewelry from her friend. She looks through the endless jewels and picks out a diamond necklace.
After the party has ended the Loisels make their way home in an old, ruggish carriage. When they get home Madame Loisel realizes the necklace is missing.
The Loisels do all they can to replace the necklace, instead of telling the truth. In the end they purchase a necklace worth 40,000 francs. They spend 10 years of their life in poverty until they repay the debt.
One day Madame Loisel notices her old friend out on a stroll with her child. Unrecognizable, due to poverty, Madame Loisel approaches her friend to find out the necklace she once wore on that night, was fake and only worth 5 francs.