This is the second most common question I field on a weekly basis. It's not always an easy answer – it depends on a variety of factors like personal style, which events you’d like to wear the necklace to, what kind of “look” you’d like to project.
This short, photo-rich guide breaks down the most popular pearl necklace lengths in an instantly “easy to get” format and includes a short bio on each strand length to get you the inside info you need to make the right choice.
Feel free to read the entire article, or use the table of contents to skip directly to the information you need. Enjoy!
Pictured below are the most common necklace lengths. Each one is labeled by numerical measurement and popular name so you can easily pick out each length.
All the necklaces featured in this article are 7.0-8.0mm pearls, which are our most popular pearl size range.
*Pro-Tip: Due to the organic nature of cultured pearls, not every strand is going to measure out to its exact measurement, on the nose, 100% of the time. Natural variations occur in each hank of pearls, so a variance from 0.10” up to 0.25” deviation is considered acceptable in the industry when measuring necklace lengths.
This is the ‘traditional’ pearl necklace length popularized in the 40’s and 50’s. The Pearl Choker should gently encircle the base of the neck, running over the collarbones and coming to rest just below the hollow of the throat. For petite frames, this length may hang slightly lower, looking more like a princess length necklace instead.
Excellent for high or open necklines, strapless dresses or boat neck shirts, this length has a more formal appeal that was considered “the standard” for previous generations, but will always remain fashionable and elegant for any age group.
Our most popular pearl necklace length, the Princess will rest about 1.5 to 2-inches below the collarbone, and actually can range from 17 to 19-Inches depending on the jeweler.
Pure Pearls creates a standard 18-Inch length for all our Princess Length necklaces, but we can custom-create any length you like. Versatile and elegant, this necklace accommodates a large variety of necklines from open collar shirts and over a cozy fall sweater to boatnecks and evening gowns (hello, LBD!).
The Princess is today’s Modern Classic for pearl necklace lengths: from casual day wear to glamorous evening events this necklace always look chic and lovely.
A PurePearls.com favorite, the 22-inch Matinee will rest about mid-chest level, just above the bosom, and has a slimming effect on the wearer by drawing the eye down in a vertical line from the chest.
This length adds a dash of personality to conservative outfits, while still looking elegant. Perfect for office settings and evenings out, this necklace looks best when worn with turtle or cowl neck tops and tailored shirts. To create a more dramatic effect, layer this necklace with longer and shorter necklaces with different gemstones and styles.
The modern Matinee can actually range from 20 to 24-Inches in length; Pure Pearls offer the 22-Inch as our “standard” but can tailor any necklace to a specific measurement should you desire (the 20-Inch Matinee is very popular), so feel free to Contact Us for a current price quote.
This long pearl necklace will rest right around the end of the rib cage/upper abdomen area, and has a range of 34 to 37-Inches. Pure Pearls creates our Opera Necklaces to measure out at 36-Inches total, but we can make any length you want. Contact Us for a current price quote.
Named the “Opera Length” because women would wear these pearls when attending glamorous evening events, this necklace has a fanciful, dramatic length that adds elegance wherever it is worn. You can wear this necklace as a single long strand, wrap it twice around the neck for a layered look, or knot it a-la flapper-style to add vintage flair to your attire.
*Did You Know? Almost all pearl necklaces arrive in pre-matched, 18-inch “loose” hanks which are then individually double-knotted and finished with a clasp of your choice by a pearl stringer in our vaults. This allows us to create virtually ANY necklace length imaginable, limited only by current inventory.
Highly popular, the 52-Inch Pearl Rope is easily one of the most versatile and just plain fun necklaces to own! A Pearl Rope can actually range from 48 to 60-inches (about 3 hanks of loose-matched pearls), but Pure offers the “standard” 52-Inch length.
This necklace can be worn singly, long and loose, or doubled and even tripled around the neck for an elegant, layered look. Pearl Ropes can also be knotted "flapper style" with the bottom "loop" having plenty of length left over to play with.
One hundred inches of elegance, the “Endless” Pearl Rope is one of my absolute favorite necklace lengths. If you love pearls – looking at them, playing with them, wearing them – this is the necklace for you. Called the “endless” because of the endless ways to wear it, a 100-Inch Pearl Rope can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, knotted, double-knotted, draped down the back and more.
Popularized by HBO’s smashing success, Sex In the City, Sarah Jessica Parker’s killer Pearl Rope look instantly put these stunning strands back on the map for pearl fashionistas, and modernized pearl necklaces for new generations (we give you thanks, SJP!!). Totally unforgettable, the 100-Inch Pearl Rope is a masterpiece in affordable luxury.
Remember earlier on in this article where I posted a pro-tip about natural variations in necklace length?
With all pearl strands, you'll encounter slight variations in total length – this is due to hanks of pearls matched according to size range, i.e. 7.0-8.0mm or 8.0-8.5mm and so on (don’t even get me started on graduated exotic strands like Tahitians …) which produces necklaces of all roughly the same size within a half-millimeter to a whole millimeter range.
This means that after knotting and clasp, the final length may not be an EXACT 18.0-Inches on the nose. Measurements of 17.8-Inches up to 18.2-Inches are quite common. And again, this is simply due to natural, slight variations in any hank of cultured pearls.
So how do you determine what the exact length of your necklace is, anyways?
Like the image above, stretch out your necklace (or bracelet) end to end next to a ruler. Starting at the clasp, measure all the way to the end pearl to get the exact final length. Clasps are included in the final measurement, but not the connecting “tongue” or folded tab at the very end – this is because the tongue gets inserted into the clasp when the pearls are worn, and does not add any extra length to the layout.
Because clasps are included, it’s important to figure in their dimensions when creating a custom design necklace like our Dark Knight Rises Pearl Necklace, inspired by the Batman movie. That particular necklace should only measure 15.5-inches maximum in order to achieve the desired effect, so selecting a clasp that adds no more than ¾-inches to the final length is really important.
This is purely fun stuff here! Wearing a pearl rope isn't just about layering around your neck (although that's my favorite way to wear one myself!). There's a bunch of beautiful, fashionable ways to incorporate a long strand of pearls into your every day look and special occasions.
Click each tab below to view different pearl rope looks we've compiled for easy reference, and how to create them. Invent something really pretty? Send me a picture and tell me about it!
Long and Loose – The easiest configuration, the Pearl Rope can be worn long and loose all the way down the front. This is best with a smaller 52-Inch Rope, as the 100-Inch Endless will be way too long to wear comfortably as a single strand. Both the 52 and 100-Inch Ropes are a ton of fun to layer with other necklaces, too - mix and match is the name of the game here.
Doubled Up – The long double-strand configuration can be done by just looping the rope over your head twice. Adjust to suit your style. A tightly wrapped single stand choker around the base of the neck with a long line of pearls draping down your front is also really pretty!
Triple Strand – to get this look with a 52-Inch Rope, you’ll need to undo the clasp and wrap the pearls around your neck three times, then re-clasp the pearls in back. A 100-Inch Rope can handle going over the head 3xs and then adjusting the final look.
Knotted Single – This is a fabulous way to add a touch of vintage glam to any outfit!
Knotted Double – Loop the Rope around your head, then knot the strands of pearls wherever you like! I’m a mid-chest girl myself, but knotting the pearls up by the neck like a kerchief is super cute, too.
Sexy Back – This configuration I rarely see done unless the pearls are worn with a backless dress. But it’s one of the sexiest ways to wear pearls I’ve ever seen.