What is the ideal necklace length?

What is the ideal necklace length? This is a question that many of us who make jewelry may wonder.  Sometimes a design lends itself to be long or choker style while other designs might have you perplexed. If you are making a piece of jewelry for yourself, the simple task of holding the piece up in front a mirror may lead you to realize what length you want to create.  However, what if you are making the necklace as a gift?  People come in all different shapes and sizes and finding the right necklace length can be difficult.  So, with the help of the chart below, let’s go over different lengths of necklaces and where they may fall on the female body.

Necklace Length Where it sits on the body
14” Necklace -35cm Fits like a choker above the clavicle bone
16” Necklace – 40cm Hits at the base of the neck like a collar
18” Necklace – 45cm  Just below the throat at the Collarbone
20” Necklace – 50cm  Falls a few inches below the Collarbone
22” Necklace – 56cm Often hits between the chest
24” Necklace – 61cm Lays on the neckline
36” Necklace – 91cm Hangs at the base of the bra

A 14” necklace length is known as a choker.  Caution, this is a very small measurement and will fit most adult women “like a choker” – hence the name.  If you are creating for someone, and want to achieve a smaller fit,  it is better to go a size up to the “princess” length necklace which is 16”. Many high-end retailers, such as Tiffany’s, will sell this size as their shortest available measurement.  On a plus size woman, this will mostlike fit as a choker.  However, I am a 5’5″ female with aspirations to stay around 135lbs. and I love the 16″ length.  I prefer this length to wear with many of my clothes and make most of the designs that I create (those featured on the Potomac Bead Company YouTube Channel) 16 inches (40cm) long.  For many this is too short and the shortest length they will wear is an 18” or what is commonly referred to as “the standard” necklace length.  An 18” necklace is a great option if you are adding or considering to add a pendant.  This length fits nicely over most crew neck shirts, but is not so long that a pendant will get lost at the base of a V neck shirt — between the ladies ;). At potomacbeads.com, most of the pre-finished necklaces we stock are available in the 18″ length since that is the most popular necklace length.

necklace length

Now we get into longer lengths.  20-24” necklaces will fall right at or below the neckline and look the best when worn with low plunging shirts/dresses or over turtlenecks and sweaters.  I tend to like the drama of a long or short necklace and do not have many that I have created or wear at this in-between length.  More often, many of the accessories that I create are “opera length” and are 36” or longer.  These longer lengths have been very popular in the boho style which is featured in many of my videos including the “Boho Druzy Necklace”.  Many of the designs that are longer than 36” can be worn long or doubled around the neck to create the illusion of two necklaces. I love to create or add a tassel on the bottom of these long necklaces to give movement to the look.  Long, opera necklaces are also a great gift since the length will fit every body type and size. Additionally, many of these do not require a clasp and can easily be put on over the head.

What about male necklace lengths?

In addition to the standard sizes listed above for woman, there are also standard necklace lengths for men.  Keep in mind that men, just like woman, will vary in size. Your male model (wearing the piece) maybe average, small, or more the size of Fabio or better yet, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson which will affect the fit of the necklace.  Below is a chart like the one above to help create the perfect male jewelry fit!

Necklace Length Position on the Body
18″ Necklace – 45cm Sits at the base of the neck (for smaller neck sizes).
20″ Necklace – 50cm Reaches the collarbone (most common length for average men).
22″ Necklace – 56cm Falls a few inches below the collarbone.
24″ Necklace – 61cm Reaches just above the sternum.

Before testing the length for a male neck, also ask if the male will actually wear the necklace.  There are very few designs that men, my husband included, is willing to sport around town.  Most male jewelry and specifically necklaces, tend to include leather and metal and are geared to fit at the collarbone.  If you want to see some “male approved supplies” you can check them out here! 

Kids have necks too!

We have covered women and men but I thought, being a mom, I would also take a look at average kid size suggestions.  If you thought men and women were hard to size, try sizing a necklace for a child.  Children vary soooo much in size that these are just as stated above, suggestions.  I used my 4 children to test these lengths which hit below the throat.

Child’s age Necklace length
0 – 1 years 8 to 12 inches (20-25cm)
1 – 3 years 10 to 12 inches (25-30cm)
3 – 7 years 12 to 14 inches (30-35cm)
7 – 10 years 14 to 16 inches (35-40cm)

Also, it is no surprise that kids grow quickly! You may want to add chain at the end of the design to make an extender so the necklace can grow with them.  Also, keep in mind that stretchy string may be a good option!

So what length is the right length?

Above all else, make and wear what feels comfortable and is a compliment to your current fashion status. If you are still struggling, make a couple samples to get the look and feel of the different lengths.  In our Ocean City, NJ location they have samples ready to try on to get a better idea of the desired measurement before beginning a design. Additionally, if you are creating your own piece, a bead board with measurements may aid in your length making decision.

OC Necklace Lengths

Also, fashions change.  When I was 16, chokers where all the rage.  If you looked at a runway model or even a mom with 4 kids hustling to get out of a grocery store, they were wearing chokers.  But that was 1999.  For the last 15 years only teenagers and goth enthusiasts seemed to wear necklaces tightly around their necks.  But like all things fashion, the trends come back!  I currently writing this while wearing a 14” natural turquoise necklace that I love and only took minutes to make since it is short!

choker

So with all of this in mind, how do you decide?  Try it on!  Even if a piece is purchased or designed with a friend, husband, or child in mind, the charts above are suggestions.  Think about the person the necklace will be worn by and their body size and shape. What is the most flattering necklace length on that person and do they already have a tendency toward one length over another?  Woman that are older tend to gravitate toward a longer necklace while a teen will more likely wear a choker or princess length. Finally, keep in mind that a chain, beaded necklace, lanyard or other piece may have started at a specific length… but you can always lengthen or shorten it!  There are several YouTube videos I have created to show you how to fix a broken chain and shorten a necklace! If you make your own jewelry, making a piece the exact length and size you desire is part of the joy!  Relish the process and do not stress about the length!

Allie Buchman 

 

 

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