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Jewelry Design Center
Measurement & Sizing
Necklaces are not quite as difficult to make as bracelets because their sizing doesn't have to be quite so specific. After all, you can add an extender chain to a 17 inch necklace so it can adjust to up to 20 inches. Or you can make a 28 inch necklace that easily just slips easily over the head. But there are guidelines and you may want to know exactly what they are and what it means when someone says they want a choker necklace or that the long opera is their favorite length.
A choker length necklace is one that hugs the neck. It can be centered around the neck or can sit at the base of the neck. It should be constructed so that it sits snugly without actually choking the wearer. Typically, a choker would measure about 14 inches in length. A good tip or trick is to add a lobster clasp and 2 to 3 inches of extender chain so the wearer can adjust the choker so it fits her comfortably.
A short necklace is typically 16 inches in length. This length will hit the average woman at the top of her breastbone, but it will be a little longer on more petite women and teenage girls. This is a great length for necklaces that feature small beads or when you want to display a charm or pendant on a simple piece of chain. Many people will still use extender chain on 16 inch necklaces so the wearer can adjust the length to her liking and/or to go with differing necklines.
Sometimes referred to as a Princess Length Necklace, the standard length necklace would be around 17 to 18 inches. This length will hit the average woman just below the top of the breastbone. At this length, it is safe to use a toggle for closure (as opposed to a lobster clasp and an extender chain) because this length will fit almost everyone at a length that is comfortable and attractive.
The matinee length is an elegant 24 inches in length, falling to about mid-chest level on the average size woman. Not quite long enough to be slipped over the head just yet (you can do that when your necklace is about 28 inches), the matinee length still requires the use of a clasp.
Opera length necklaces measure around 30 inches in length. Traditionally made of pearls, opera length necklaces are considered very elegant. An added bonus to the opera length necklace is that it is long enough to be constructed without a clasp, so it can slip on and off over the head with ease. A necklace can measure up to 36 inches in length, at which point it may be referred to as a long opera necklace.
The rope length typically measures about 40 inches in length and hangs to the abdominal area. Like the opera necklace, the rope necklace does not require a clasp for closure since it is long enough to slip over the head; however, if someone wants to also be able to wear her rope necklace double over, a clasp or toggle should be used.
Lariat necklaces can vary greatly in length, starting at about the length of rope necklaces and measuring up to 6 feet. The lariat necklace does not have a clasp for closure and is open ended; it is meant to be doubled over and/or wrapped around the neck like a scarf.
If you are creating a necklace for a family member or a friend, pay attention to the length of necklace she typically wears. If you never see her wearing a long necklace, don't make her one. Some people may fear that longer necklaces will catch on something and break and try to avoid them. Conversely, some women do not like necklaces that fit tightly around their necks, so avoid doing chokers. Older women typically do not like the choker length necklace and this length can often be part of a fashion trend, so it is best to keep to a more traditional length when designing for someone who has a classic style. When creating shorter necklaces, try not to use too a heavy pendant and/or weighty beads; those are best for mid-length necklaces. The same will hold true with longer necklaces as well: use seed beads or pearls or lightweight stones for your rope length necklaces so that the weight will not be too much for the wearer (or the wire upon which it is strung).
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