This is another post in response to a question asked of me by one of my Twitter followers. She wanted to understand collaring. I'll deal with what a collar is, why they're used, some of the different types of collars are, including different styles.
What is a collar?
Simply put (though the idea of collaring is by no means simple), a collar is a strip of metal, fabric, leather, etc that is fastened around the neck of a submissive or slave by a Dominant or Master. However, a "collar" can be worn on the wrist or ankle, or even be in the form of a tattoo.
Why are collars used?
For a lot of reasons, ranging from a what someone thinks is a cool fashion statement - I kid you not - to something akin to a wedding ring. A collar can be a source of tremendous security or strength to a submissive. In general, they show a relationship between a submissive and a Dominant.
What are the different types of collars?
Protection/temporary/play collar- This is a collar, usually a simple one without a lock etc that is given on a temporary basis to a submissive at something like a play party to designate that submissive as being under the protection of a particular Dominant. At the end of the event the collar is taken back by the Dominant and the protection is considered over.
Training/consideration collar- A collar given by a Dominant to a submissive during a period of time where the two people are getting to know each other. No contract or specific agreement is in order, but the submissive is still considered as "belonging to" that Dominant. How long this collar is worn varies greatly depending on the circumstances of the particular relationship.
During this time, the submissive is learning what the Dominant expects and the Dominant is learning what the submissive needs. There are usually rules and consequences for breaking them, but as I said, this period of time is considered training, rather than a permanent relationship. This is, in my experience, the time in which the most "breakups" between Dominants and submissives happen.
These collars often have locks and more features (D rings) than a play or protection collar, but are oftentimes not as expensive or customized for the submissive as a permanent collar would be.
Permanent/formal collar- This type of collar is often given to a submissive during an official collaring ceremony. These ceremonies can be either private or public affairs, short or drawn-out, complicated affairs. The point of the ceremony is to bind the submissive to the Dominant on a permanent basis. These collars are oftentimes made custom for the submissive and sometimes look like a piece of jewelry so the submissive can wear them all the time without notifying the world of their submissive or slave status. Many times this is when a formal contract is drawn up and signed by each party.
Cyber collar- A "collar" given to a submissive by a Dominant he or she has never met in real life. Some of these collars mean a great deal to one or both parties, but are not always recognized by those in the lifestyle. In this instance, the collar, and, in fact, the relationship itself is more of a role play situation.
What different styles of collars are there?
http://www.stockroom.com/Steel-Rubber-Collars-C332.aspx (there are also rubber collars and posture collars here)
Jewelry collars- (often used so the submissive/slave can be out in the vanilla world but still collared)
The decision to collar, what type of collar to use, etc are all personal choices and unique to each relationship. There is no right or wrong, as long as the two parties understand the significance of the collar and its meaning.