The Cheat's Guide to Necklace Lengths

October 21, 2015 Allison Bray

Image by Irma Guzman
Do you speak necklace?! There are six traditional necklace lengths, each with their own name and history. These were developed in line with strict etiquette rules on when certain styles of necklace could be worn. Of course, we say rules are made to be broken. 
If you want to know your princess from your matinee, this is the guide for you.
The length of a collar necklace is typically 12”-13”. These sit snugly on the centre of the neck and are often made up of more than one strand. Collar necklaces grew in popularity during Victorian times and were most commonly worn in pearls or precious gems such as jet. 
Chokers are necklaces between 14”-16”. They’re designed to lie at the base of the neck and work well with almost any type of neckline. They can be particularly flattering for women who have rectangular or heart-shaped faces as they do a great job of softening the jawline.
Princess length necklaces are usually between 17”-19”. Most pendants are worn on chains of this length. They tend to be the most flattering length for this purpose as the base of the chain sits just below the collarbone. Many jewellery experts consider 18” the perfect necklace length!
Matinee length necklaces are between 20”-24”. They can also be worn with pendants, though this can be less flattering as base of the chain usually ends at the cleavage. This length is designed to be more formal than princess length but not quite as extravagant as longer opera or rope styles. 
A necklace is described as opera length at anything from 25”-38”. This is a versatile length as it can be worn long, doubled over or knotted. This length would traditionally have been worn with evening wear, perhaps for a trip to the opera.
Rope necklaces are anything over 38”. This is a super-luxurious length and would once have been a signal that you, or your beau, were rich enough to afford it. Just like opera length necklaces, ropes can be worn long and proud, doubled or tripled over, or knotted. They’re also popularly worn as a choker at the front and long and knotted at the back to accentuate a backless gown. 
Do you feel more in the know? Test yourself by browsing our selection of gorgeous contemporary necklaces.

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