If you want to purchase a new necklace or pick out a chain for a favorite pendant, you’ll need to decide how long you want the necklace to be.
Different chains, of course, hang at different lengths, so the length of a necklace can change how it looks when it’s worn.
Luckily, measuring a necklace the right way isn’t too tricky.
Measure with a Favorite Necklace
One of the easiest ways to determine how long your necklace should be is to measure a necklace you already like. To measure a necklace, get out a ruler or tape measurer and lay it flat on a level surface. Unclasp the necklace and line it up along the ruler or tape measure.
Measure the entire length of the necklace, including the clasps. If the necklace has an extension chain, however, don’t measure that.
Only measure from the end of one clasp to the end of the other. Most necklaces in the United States are sold in inches, so make sure you are measuring in inches and not millimeters.
To get the necklace to line up straight along the ruler or measuring tape, you might want to use a small object like a chopstick to hold down the little circular clasp at one end, so you can pull the necklace taut.
Use a Piece of String
If you don’t have a necklace with a length you like, you can use a piece of string or ribbon to measure your necklace length. Hold the string in a loop around your neck, and pull it down until it hangs where you would want a necklace to hang.
If you plan to add a pendant to a chain, you may want to place something of equal weight on the string to get a better idea of where the pendant will fall.
Once you’ve got the right length, measure the string you used along a ruler or measuring tape. You may need to round to the closest inch or the closest common necklace length. You can round up or down depending on your preference.
Use Common Lengths
You can also use common lengths to estimate the best necklace length for you. Most necklaces are sold in 2-inch increments, and the shortest necklace length is usually 14 inches.
Necklaces measuring about 14 inches long are called choker or collar necklaces, and they sit close to your neck. These necklaces should not be tight, however. Sixteen-inch necklaces are called bib or choker necklaces, and they fall along the collarbones or near the base of the neck.
Princess necklaces are about 18 inches long, although you might sometimes find a princess necklace in a 17-inch size. Princess is the most common women’s necklace length. It hangs right along or just below the collarbone.
Matinee necklaces are 20 to 24 inches long and hang along the top of the bust. Opera necklaces are between 28 and 36 inches long. They should fall below your bust line. Rope necklaces are the longest necklace option, measuring between 36 and 42 inches long.
These necklaces hang well below the bust, but you can also double them so they hang at two different lengths.
Remember that your height can affect how a necklace sits. If you’re short, your torso might also be shorter than average, so a short necklace might hang a bit lower. If you’re tall, longer necklaces might look to be more of an average length on you.
Bust size can also change how a necklace hangs. If you have a larger bust, you may want to opt for a longer chain so that the necklace hangs a bit lower and more evenly.