How to Measure Necklace Length
When wearing jewelry, the right fit is essential. This is especially true when it comes to necklaces. The wrong length can be uncomfortable, unflattering, or simply wrong for your perfect ensemble. Knowing how to measure different lengths for a necklace can help you find the perfect accessory for everyday wear, a formal event, or a night on the town. Let’s take a look at different necklace length options and go over some simple ways to know how to measure necklace length.
How to Measure Necklace Length
Knowing how to measure necklace length is an important skill to determine the best necklace and chain lengths that compliment your favorite pendants or outfits.
How to Measure the Length of a Necklace You Already Own
Chances are, you have a favorite necklace that hangs at the perfect length around your neck. This might be your everyday, go-to necklace or the one you never want to take off. You will probably want to know the exact length of that necklace so you can purchase future chains or necklaces at the exact same length. Though this may seem pretty straightforward, you’ll want to make sure you get the correct length for future necklaces.
Almost all chains and necklaces will be measured in inches (at least in the United States). You will need a measuring tool that measures in inches.
Since most necklaces are going o be longer than a standard 12” ruler, I would recommend using a yard stick or tape measure. This way you won’t have to move the ruler along the chain and increase the chance you’ll measure incorrectly.
Use a flat surface or the floor and lay out your measuring device.
Unhook the clasp and place the clasp end of the chain at the start of your ruler or tape measure. Be sure to put the very end of the clasp at the very beginning of your ruler. Chains and necklaces are always measured including the length of the clasp.
Lay the chain along the length of the ruler until it is fully outstretched. Make sure there aren’t any kinks or bends in the chain.
Observe the measurement on your ruler where the end of the chain (including the portion that the clasp clips into) sits. This measurement will be the length of the necklace or chain.
How to Measure Necklace Length to Fit Your Neckline or Outfit
Maybe you are tall and the standard necklace lengths don’t fit you in quite the same way, or maybe you have a specific outfit you’d like a necklace to match. You can use simple tools from around your house to try on different necklace lengths until you find the perfect length for you.
You’ll need a piece of string. This can be yarn, a small rope, sewing thread, dental floss, or anything that is relatively close to the diameter of the chain or necklace you are looking to purchase. Make sure whatever you choose to use is not too stiff or inflexible.
Since most of these string options are going to be lighter in weight to a necklace or chain, I also recommend using something to weigh it down, especially if you plan to wear the chain with a pendant. This can be a pendant you already own, a ring on your finger, a large bead or washer, or even a small house key.
Just like when you measure a necklace you already own, you’ll also need a measuring tape, yard stick, or long ruler that measures in inches.
Hold the end of the string and guess the general length you are looking to measure. Be sure your weight is strung if you are using one.
Place the string around your neck, holding the end and your chosen length behind your neck and right at the base of your neck, where a chain or necklace would naturally hang.
While looking in a mirror, adjust the length of the string until you believe it is the perfect length for your neckline or outfit. Be sure to have a firm hold on that exact point in the string.
Pull the string away from your neck, making sure your fingers don’t move along the string as you pull it away from your neck.
Be sure your ruler or other measuring device is laying on a flat surface or the floor. Place one end of the string at the beginning of the ruler and lay the length of string along the edge of the ruler. Keep your fingers at the point along the string that marks the perfect length.
Once the string is laid out and straight against the ruler, observe the point on the string where your finger is place holding. This measurement will be the length of chain or necklace you will want to look for.
Types of Necklace Lengths
There are several different necklace lengths, each with its own name and typical use. Here are the most common lengths you can wear:
A collar length necklace is the shortest style at 12″ – 13”, though it will be a different length for each individual person. This necklace length will wrap directly around your neck. A collar length necklace can be rigid in design, a simple chain, or even a piece of fabric or lace. Depending on what you are looking for, a collar length necklace can be worn casually or for a formal event.
One of the best parts about a collar length necklace is that it can be worn with almost any shirt or dress neckline. Turtlenecks are the only style that won’t always fit this particular necklace length. Be sure to try on a collar length necklace, though, before purchasing one. Many people feel uncomfortable having something wrapping so close to their neck.
Wear a Collar Length Necklace With:
Crew, boat, swoop, asymmetrical, off shoulder, plunging, and square necklines
A choker length necklace measures 14” – 16” and sits around the base of your neck and just above your collarbone. This is a popular alternative to the collar length as it’s not as snug around your neck, making it a bit more comfortable.
You can wear a choker length necklace with just about any neckline. It can be a formal style, a casual and everyday look, or you can wear it with other necklaces for a fun, layered look. This is an incredibly popular length for a classic strand of pearls.
Wear a Choker Length Necklace With:
Asymmetrical, off shoulder, square, scoop, and boat necklines
A princess length necklace measures 17”-18” and sits on or just below the collarbone. This is probably the most popular necklace length and most comfortable for women of all shapes and sizes.
A princess length necklace can be worn with many different outfits, but it can also fall right at some necklines, depending on the style. Pendants look great on this necklace length, however, and can really compliment a V-neck style.
Wear a Princess Length Necklace With:
Strapless, scoop, square, and V-neck necklines
A matinee length necklace measures 20” – 24” and will typically sit two to four inches below the collarbone and above the bust. If you are taller in stature or have a larger neckline, this may be a more comfortable necklace length for you.
If you are looking for a good length to wear with collared shirts or outfits with high necklines, the matinee length can be a perfect choice. It will also compliment formal looks including plunging evening wear or wedding dresses.
Wear a Matinee Length Necklace With:
Plunging and collared necklines
An opera length necklace measures 28” – 36” and will sit on the lower half of the bust or just below, depending on your body shape.
If you are looking for a length that works great for higher necklines, including turtlenecks and boat necks, the opera length necklaces are a great choice. Depending on the size of your neck, you may also be able to double loop this length and wear it as a choker.
Wear an Opera Length Necklace With:
High, scoop, and strapless necklines
A rope length measures 36” – 51” and will fall at the waist or even lower. Anyone, no matter their size or shape, can comfortably and elegantly wear a rope length chain. They look great on all body types.
The rope necklaces are one of the most versatile necklaces and can be worn in multiple different ways. Whether you want to double or triple wrap them, fold them in half to make a lariat, or simply wear them at their full length, this necklace can compliment almost any outfit.
Wear a Rope Length Necklace With:
High, square, boat, collared and strapless necklines
An adjustable chain can be worn at multiple different lengths depending on the adjustable chain you choose. Typically, these can either adjust through a slide, multiple connection points along the chain, or by adding an insert. Most commonly, adjustable chains will adjust between 16”, 18” and 20”, but you can find or make an adjustable chain for any variety of lengths you’d like.
Chain that can be multiple different lengths are incredibly useful in any wardrobe. Since you have options, you can wear this chain with pretty much any neckline and they can compliment any body shape.
Wear an Adjustable Length Necklace With:
Any neckline you would like
How to Pick the Perfect Necklace and Necklace Length
Now that you have the tools to find the perfect necklace length for you, let’s go over a few tips and tricks you can consider when you go to buy that new necklace.
Necklaces are Not One Size Fits All
There are a lot of different body types out there. While the different types of necklace lengths give you a general idea on where they should fall, that doesn’t mean this is where they will fall on you. An 18” necklace might look more like a choker length or a matinee length depending on your size. Always try on a certain length before you purchase OR measure your ideal length and use that measurement when shopping.
Necklaces Can Catch and Break
I personally wear matinee and opera length necklaces all the time. I think they can really accent an outfit and I love that they can be layered with shorter necklaces. These particular lengths, however, seem to always get caught on things like my car, my kids, the tools I’m using for work, etc. Because of this, they can be a lot more susceptible to breaking and/or wearing down faster. So, I tend to lean towards heavier chains or necklaces in these lengths. I am also a bit more conscious of the types on pendants I hang on these chains.
As with any piece of jewelry you purchase, be sure to put some thought into how you will wear it. If it’s for casual, everyday occasions, you’ll want something with the durability to withstand constant wear. If it is for special occasions or formal events, you can get away with more delicate designs.
Custom Necklaces Offer the Most Versatility
If you find yourself wanting a necklace length that doesn’t fit the standard, a custom necklace is a great option for you! With custom, you can make your chain or necklace any length. Or you can make one that adjusts to multiple different lengths. A custom necklace can give you the most versatility and control to design and create a necklace that fits exactly what you are looking for.
At Virginia Ann Designs, I love working with clients to design and build unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. Necklaces, chains, and pendants are a staple in almost every woman’s jewelry box. Now that you know how to find the perfect length, let me help you bring all your necklace dreams to a reality. 😊 Please reach out if you have any questions or ideas! I love talking about jewelry.