They are the quintessential piece of jewelry – and even the oldest civilizations agree. They transform your outfits and transition your attire from day to night just by there mere presence. Undoubtedly, they upgrade any look from your wardrobe. We’re talking about necklaces and necklace lengths: the short, the long, the dainty and the statement – and all those in-between.
Necklaces have been around since the oldest civilizations. The earliest finding of jewelry, a simple necklace made out of fish bones, dates from around 25,000 years ago and it was discovered in a cave in Monaco. These days, there are many more fish in the sea, as the market is bursting with different necklace designs, necklace lengths and styles with a plethora of adornments.
Starting with a bit of history, we’re diving into the world of neckpieces – covering the WHERE and the HOW TO wear them based on their lengths and types.
A Brief History of Necklaces
The earliest necklaces known to man were made out of natural shells, bone, stones and teeth, gathered from successful hunting trips. These were later replaced by fashioned beads – and various prehistoric grave sites confirm their popularity. The ancient Egyptians made beads of glass and glazed pottery, which they would later use in the creation of necklaces.
The invention of the chain was soon followed by the invention of the pendant – and these gained their popularity in ancient Egypt, as well as among the Romans and Greeks of the time. More often than not, pendants were symbolic charms, used by the wearer as protective talismans against evil.
Necklaces experienced another flourishing era during the Renaissance period, when they even exceeded the popularity of brooches and became an emblem of wealth and social status. Soon after the Renaissance years, necklaces vanished from the limelight. The reason: the fashions of the 17th century featured high-neck garments with ruffles and lace collars.
The length of popular necklaces at any given time in history seemed to depend on the fashionable necklines of the era. As a general rule, ornate necklines forwent necklaces, while lower cut necklines were accompanied by precious neckpieces. Shorter necklace lengths like chokers and collars were at peak popularity during the 15th and 16th centuries, when many portraits featured these pieces worn over the collarbones or high on the neck. The Victorian era brought the matching jewelry set in fashion, with cohesive earrings, bracelets, pendants and brooches being the standard. Necklaces were reserved for eveningwear, while pendants and brooches were a daytime staple. During the later years of the Victorian period (end of the 19th century), high collar dresses were very common, but eveningwear was reserved for décolletage, often accompanied by multiple pearl necklaces at different lengths or a multi-layer pearl choker.
Necklace Lengths: The 6 Main Types
Necklaces (and more specifically, pearl necklaces) come in six different lengths. Next, we’re taking a look at the main necklace length types, their measurements, placement and the right ways to wear them.
1. Collar Length
Measurements: 12’’-13’’ / 30-33 cm
Placement: tightly around the neck
A collar is the shortest out of all necklace lengths. Placed snugly around the neck, this type of necklace can be made out of many materials, including fabric (with lace and velvet being the most popular options). Unlike the longer necklace types, a collar will not move from its position due to being tightly secured on the neck.
2. Choker Length
Measurements: 14’’-16” / 36-41 cm
Placement: against the base of the neck
The choker is a classic and highly popular necklace length that is universally flattering and versatile. A classic pearl choker will fall just above the collarbones, against the base of the neck. Chokers can be worn in a wide range of occasions and successfully paired both with daytime and nighttime ensembles.
FACT: The most popular period for chokers was the Art Nouveau & Art Deco eras of the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, the chokers were often made out of ribbon and embellished with pearls.Click to tweet
3. Princess Length
Measurements: 17’’-18’’ / 43-46 cm
Placement: on the collarbone
The princess length is one of the most popular choices today. This type of necklace is designed to sit at or right below the collar bone. Due to its versatile length, this neckpiece is well suited for a wide range of women’s attire, which includes everything from button-up shirts to evening gowns.
4. Matinee Length
Measurements: 20’’-24’’ / 51-61 cm
Placement: between the collarbone and bust
The matinee necklace length is suitable for both casual and business attire. Falling somewhere between the collarbone and the bust, it is a favorite when layering necklaces at multiple lengths. Plunging evening dresses, and especially wedding dresses are also a perfect match for a matinee length necklace.
5. Opera Length
Measurements: 28’’-36’’ / 71-91 cm
Placement: just below the bust
Opera length necklaces fall on the lower half of the bust or just under, depending on body shape and height. Often worn wrapped around the neck twice, this length makes a great choice for layering and is perfectly suitable for formalwear.
6. Rope Length
Measurements: 36’’-51’’ / 91-130 cm
Placement: on the waist or below
Rope length necklaces are the longest type of pearl necklaces available on the market. Rope necklaces offer high versatility, due to the fact that they can be worn in multiple ways: wrapped around multiple times, knotted in a lariat-style or extra-long until the waist, on their own or layered with other pendants and neckpieces.
From your favorite t-shirts to business suits and evening dresses, there’s virtually no outfit out there that doesn’t look great when paired with a classic pearl pendant. Shop our collection of Pearl Pendants including Freshwater, Akoya, Tahitian and White South Sea pearl pieces designed for every occasion.
How to Measure Necklace Lengths
Upgrading your jewelry collection? When shopping for necklaces, picking the right necklace length is imperative – and to do so, you need to make sure that you have a good understanding of what those numbers mean, where the necklaces will be placed and what necklines they will be suitable for. Here is a quick 3-step guide on measuring necklace lengths.
- Make a ‘mock necklace’. If you are interested in a necklace online and would like to get a good feel of how it will look, then cut a piece of string in the same length. To do that, lay the string flat on a table and mark, then cut at the specified length. Place the string around your neck and observe the placement of the necklace.
- Experiment with chain or string. If you are interested in a different necklace than the ones in your jewelry box or shopping for a specific neckline, play in the mirror with a simple long chain or string until you get the most flattering length. Mark your chain or string and measure it – then get shopping!
- Compare the length with a necklace you already own. If you are interested in shopping for a necklace online, measure a similar necklace at home. Observe its placement and compare the number with the piece you are interested in to get a good feel about how your next purchase will look.
How to Pick the Right Necklace Lengths When Shopping for Gifts
Shopping for gifts? Necklaces make great gifts for your loved ones, but you want to make sure that the recipient will enjoy and wear your necklace of choice. Here are a few tips on how to pick the right necklace lengths when shopping for someone else.
- Measure one of their existing necklaces. If you have access to their jewelry box, this is the surest way to make sure they will adore your upcoming gift. Measure their favorite necklace from their collection – the one they wear on repeat – and shop for a similar necklace length.
- Stick with the classics: princess necklaces. The most popular choice for women everywhere is also a fail-proof, universally flattering and versatile pick: the princess necklace. These type of necklaces measure 17’’-18’’ and fall on the collarbone.
- Shop according to their frame. For petite ladies, stick to a choker / princess length – with the 16 inch necklace being the best option. Opt for 18’’ length necklaces for a woman with an average build, and choose 19’’ / 20—necklace lengths for taller or curvier ladies.
Necklace Lengths for Wedding Dresses
Getting ready to tie the knot soon? Congrats! While your wedding gown is ready to go and you’ve even picked the perfect veil and heels, you’re undecided when it comes to jewelry – more specifically, which necklace type to wear with your dress. While no rules are set in stone when it comes to picking your big day bling and following your instincts and preferences is always the way to go, here are a few standard, fail-proof tips to keep in mind.
1. Strapless Wedding Dresses & Princess Necklaces
Open necklines such as the strapless and the open shoulder ones call for shorter necklaces – with the best option being the princess length. These shorter necklace lengths offer optimal balance and flatter any type of figure, creating visual interest on top and attracting all eyes to your face. Opting for a piece that is longer than the princess necklace will often make the look seem unbalanced.
2. Sweetheart Necklines & Drop Necklaces and Pendants
If you’ve opted for a wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline, the classic choice is to go for a drop necklace or a pendant – be it a solitary gem pendant or a multiple gem / pearl design. Pendants follow the same drop as the classic sweetheart neckline design, beautifully elongating the figure and creating delicate, yet chic visual interest. Another great alternative is opting for a pendant – either a single pearl pendant or a multiple gem drop pendant.
3. Halter Necklines & Statement Earrings
If you’re wearing a wedding dress with a halter neckline, a pair of statement earrings instead of a necklace might be the best choice. Halter necklines rarely pair well with necklaces when talking about evening gowns and wedding dresses. Halters are fashion statements in their own right and adding visual interest on top takes away from the design of the dress. You can definitely opt for classic studs if you want to keep it minimal, but a pair of chandelier or drop & dangle earrings might look extra flattering while enhancing your natural glow.
4. Plunging Necklines & Matinee and Lariat Necklaces
If you opted for a wedding dress with a plunging neckline, a matinee style piece is the best option that creates balance and cohesion. Another way to accessorize a plunging wedding dress is by opting for a lariat style necklace. For a narrow plunge, opt for thin, delicate chains and smaller pearls. For a plunging neckline that is wide, go bolder with statement pieces.
5. Off-Shoulder Necklines & Statement Chokers
An off-shoulder neckline will instantly draw attention to your collarbone area – which is why a statement 16 inch necklace is the best pick. Off-shoulder wedding dresses carry a subtle retro vibe, combined with timeless elegance. A multi-layer pearl choker will perfectly compliment this type of neckline, framing and drawing eyes towards your face.
6. V-Shaped Necklines & Pendant Necklaces
Wedding dresses with V-shaped necklines pair well with classic pendants. A solitaire pearl necklace will follow the V-line of your décolletage, while also showcasing the design of the dress in an elegant way, without distracting it (like a chunkier necklace would). Wedding dresses with a V neckline tend to be either casual or on the highly formal side. For a casual dress, accessorize it with a simple pearl pendant. For a formal gown, pair it up with a diamond-enriched pearl pendant.
7. High Necklines & Rope Lengths
High necklines can be very elegant – or ready for a glam up, your choice. If you are all about the glam, then opting for the longest necklace lengths is the way to go. Wrap a rope length necklace multiple times around until you get the effect you desire. Depending on your build and height, opera necklace lengths are also a great choice for high-necks.
8. Asymmetrical Necklines & Choker Lengths
An asymmetrical neckline usually calls for shorter necklaces, although the type of asymmetry is also important. A classic, fail-proof choice is opting for a pearl choker necklace that will not fall over the dress. Another option is to go for a statement bracelet and dangly earrings instead.
9. Crew Neckline & Collar Necklaces
Crew necklines work well with the shortest necklace lengths – such as the pearl choker or the collar, depending on the depth of the neckline. These types of necklines are common for modest wedding dresses, as well as casual wedding gowns, so keeping it simple and minimal with a streamlined white pearl choker or collar is the best option.
10. Boat Necklines & Choker Lengths
The classic choker (a 14 to 16 inch necklace) is once again the favorite pick when working with boat necklines. As an elegant option, this type of neckline calls for an equally elegant neckpiece. Whether you opt for a classic round pearl piece or a baroque pearl necklace, a diamond choker or a chain, make sure that the necklace falls above the neckline.
11. Square Necklines & Bib Necklaces and Chokers
When opting for a square or deep scoop neckline wedding dress, you’ve got lots of options. For a bold look, opt for a statement jewelry piece, such as a gem-enriched bib necklace in shorter necklace lengths or a multi-layer pearl choker. For a more elegant look, you can also easily opt for the classics, such as princess or matinee necklace lengths (depending on the depth of the cleavage).
12. Illusion Necklines – No Necklaces
Illusion necklines are high-interest necklines, often featuring intricate lace and delicate mesh. For this reason, forgoing the necklace and opting for earrings and / or a bracelet instead might be the best option. Avoid over-adorning yourself when your dress is already busy / detailed / sparkly near the neckline and aim for a balanced look instead.
FACT: Higher-class Ancient Egyptians wore collars of organic and precious materials on festive occasions. And like the ancient Greeks and Romans, they believed their charms offered protection from evil.Click to tweet
Additional Styling Tips for Bridal Necklaces
- If you’re going for a low back or backless wedding dress, opt for a showstopping look with a back necklace crafted from dainty chain, pearls or in a tin cup design.
- Skip the necklace altogether regardless of the neckline if your dress features ornate, intricate details, embroideries and sparkle on top to avoid clashing or over-accessorizing.
- If you are not sure regarding necklace lengths, opt for an adjustable necklace and experiment, using it at different lengths to see what best suits your wedding dress.
- When wearing shorter statement necklaces, switch the chandelier earrings for classic studs to complete the look and avoid over-accessorizing.
- Match your metals. Unless you are opting for a matching set (such as a cohesive pearl set), make sure to pay attention to the finish of your different jewelry pieces (chains, clasps) and avoid combining different tones.
From the right dress to the right earrings and necklace, every detail matters when getting ready for your Big Day. Discover our collection of Bridal Pearl Jewelry, featuring pearl necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants and matching sets and find your dream piece – timelessly elegant, chic and sophisticated.
Necklace Lengths for Every Neckline
Personal style plays the central role when getting dressed, which is why you should always follow your own instincts and preferences when accessorizing. But in a sea of different garments with a plethora of necklines and an equal amount of jewelry designs, achieving successful pairings might present a bit of a challenge. Next, a few fail-proof recipes that do the work for you: classic combinations of necklines and necklaces that simply work in every situation.
- Wear COLLARS with Crew and Off-Shoulder Necklines
- Pair CHOKERS with Boat, Square, Asymmetric, Scoop, Strapless and Off-Shoulder Necklines
- Wear PRINCESS Length with Strapless, Square and Scoop Necklines and over Button-Downs
- Choose MATINEE Length for Plunging and Sweetheart Necklines
- Select OPERA Lengths for High Necklines and Turtlenecks
- Pair ROPE Length with Turtlenecks, High Necklines and Boat Necklines
- Choose PENDANTS for V-Necks, Button-Downs, Square and Sweetheart Necklines
- FORGO the Necklace with Halter and Cowl Necklines
FACT: In the Middle Ages, kings and the clergy wore statement collars of gold, gems and enamel that featured their insignia or badge of office.Click to tweet
1. Boat Necklines
Boat necklines are elegant, refined and simply timeless, regardless if we’re talking t-shirts or sleeveless blouses. When it comes to accessorizing, you have two options: go super short or super long. Pair a boat neckline with a classic choker for a fail-proof, elegant look or go in the opposite direction and layer one or two strings of a rope-length necklace for a more glamorous look.
2. Square Necklines
Square necklines are easy to accessorize, due to their versatility and universal appeal. You can opt for a classic choker, a bold choker that goes below your collarbones, statement princess necklaces and bib necklaces. In addition, a classic pendant can’t miss the mark when paired with a square neckline.
3. High-Necks / Turtlenecks
High-necks and turtlenecks are less welcoming of variety in terms of accessorizing. The best option is to stick with what works – in this case, ultra-long necklaces in rope and opera necklace lengths.
4. Asymmetrical Necklines
Classic chokers for the win once again when accessorizing an asymmetrical neckline. Stick to a one-row of gems such as pearls in this standard, universally flattering length for the best results.
5. Strapless Necklines
A strapless neckline is highly versatile due to its simplicity, but the standard pairing is with a princess length necklace. Chokers and short pendants also make great picks for a straight neckline, leaving your décolletage bare.
6. Sweetheart Necklines
Sweetheart necklines work perfectly with pendants at matinee length, as well as matinee pearl necklaces and drop or lariat style designs. These types of necklaces follow the same subtle drop of the neckline, making the look balanced and elegant.
7. Scoop Necklines
Similar to square necklines, scoops work well with statement choker and princess lengths. Opt for multi-layer designs or bib style necklaces with volume – the deeper the neckline, the bolder the necklace.
8. V-Neck Necklines
A classic one-gem pendant is the most versatile choice for a V-neck, and that includes casual t-shirts and cocktail frocks. Pendants will follow the same V-drop as the neckline itself, which will create a flattering, elongating effect.
9. Collar Necklines / Button-Downs
For a business look featuring a button-down shirt or a blouse with a classic collar, a short pendant with a single gem is the best option. Keep the necklace at choker length for the best visual balance. Alternatively, opt for a princess length pearl necklace and layer your necklace over the blouse for a more impactful look.
10. Crew Necklines / T-Shirts
Crew necks such as the standard t-shirt work best with collar sized necklaces or short chokers that sit tightly around the base of the neck. Bib necklaces that are short and tight around the neck are other great alternatives.
11. Plunging Necklines
Plunging dresses and tops work best with longer necklace lengths, such as matinee. Alternatively, you can opt for long lariat or drop style necklaces and pendants that will visually elongate your figure.
12. Off-Shoulder Necklines
Chokers and collars make the best options when accessorizing an off-shoulder dress or top. And you can go either way – the minimalist route or the bold, statement route. Pair off-shoulder garments with short necklaces at the base of the neck or tightly on the neck for an elegant look with a modern twist.
Necklace lengths play a big role when accessorizing. In fact, they play a big role in your look overall. The right necklace design in the right necklace length can simply make the look – creating the right kind of visual interest in the right kind of place, without distracting or overdoing it. Similarly, opting for a necklace that is too long or too short for your neckline will unbalance the look – or worse, clash with your garment. But with the right styling tips and basic rules to keep in mind, you can definitely avoid the potential fashion faux-passes and create successful, timelessly elegant pairings that you will love (and repeat) for years to come.
It doesn’t get more timeless and classic than a white pearl necklace. Whether it accompanies your bridal dress, your favorite cocktail frock or your business suit – the right piece instantly upgrades your ensemble. Discover our collection of White Pearl Necklaces, where you’ll find Freshwater, Akoya and South Sea pearl neckpieces at every length, customizable according to your preferences.
Need more information on how to shop for your dream necklace? Follow our 5-step guide on Shopping for Pearls Online by downloading our eBook below.
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