Finding the Right Necklace Length

Model wears three gold chain necklaces from Fink's Jewelers

When it is time to buy a new necklace, there are many things to consider — metal, gems, and style are important decisions. The length of necklace you choose can dramatically affect the look of your jewelry and how it works with your outfits. While there are many options, it is important to consider all the factors when finding the perfect necklace length for your personal style. 

Popular Necklace Lengths

14K White Gold Round Diamond Partway Choker Necklace

Finding the right necklace length is essential and can make an entire outfit come together. It may be hard to visualize exactly how a specific length of necklace will lay without a guide. There are five primary lengths to consider when purchasing a necklace:

  • 14-16 inches: collars or choker necklaces that sit at the base of the neck
  • 18 inches: known as “princess” necklaces, which lay on top of the collarbone
  • 20-24 inches: a length of necklace that sits between the collarbone and bust
  • 28-36 inches: called opera necklaces, hitting at or below the bust
  • 36+ inches: a rope chain that can be wrapped or layered

While each length of necklace has its place, the most popular length is 16 inches. If you are unsure of what you want or you are purchasing a gift, this is a safe necklace length. The placement of each necklace can also change depending on your own neck size, so trying on necklaces is best to determine the perfect size.

2 Ways to Measure for the Right Necklace Length

Mikimoto White Gold Akoya Pearl Bubble and Diamond Pendant

While there are general guidelines for where necklaces of different lengths will lay, every body is different, and it’s best to try necklaces on to get a precise idea of what different measurements look like around your neck. Take your own measurements to find what works best for you.

There are two primary ways to measure the best length of necklace:

  1. If you already have a necklace you like, lay it flat and measure the necklace length with a string or tape measure. This will give you an accurate guideline for your next piece.
  2. If you are not sure what necklace length you’d like to try, find a piece of string and lay it around your neck. Looking in a mirror, adjust the length to your desired look. Then, measure the string for an approximate necklace length.

The Right Necklace Length for Your Neckline

When assembling an outfit, it is vital to consider how your jewelry will complement your clothing. Take the time to find a necklace length that will fit nicely with your top. The goal is to be able to see the necklace well while complementing the shape of the neckline.

There are guidelines to help match the right length of necklace with specific necklines.

Much of this depends on how low the neckline is cut, but these guidelines hold true most of the time. Some of the most common necklines are:

  • V-neck
  • Square
  • Scoop
  • Plunge
  • Button-down 

Shorter chains or chokers are best with V-necks and button-downs. Any length of necklace works well with a scoop neckline, but a princess length is best. Layers of necklaces work well with plunging and button-down necklines. With square necklines, it is best to make a personal judgment based on how low the neckline goes. 

The Best Necklace Length for Your Face Shape

White Gold Round Diamond Graduated Necklace

Not only can the right necklace mesh perfectly with an outfit, but the right necklace length can also flatter your face shape. Everyone’s face has a specific shape, and knowing the contours of your face helps you accessorize well.

A strategic length of necklace can help accentuate your face shape’s best qualities and bring balance to certain details. For example, a face with sharp angles like a square or triangle face shape would look best with a soft, curved necklace as opposed to geometric necklaces or pendants. On the other hand, round faces would benefit from a long necklace length that seems to lengthen the face. Oval faces work well with any length of necklace.

Examine your face shape and determine how you want your jewelry to work on your behalf. If you want your face to look longer, find a longer necklace. A round and dainty necklace may help if you want to look less angular. 

Factoring in a Pendant

Yellow Gold Diamond Floral Circle Pendant

Pendants are beautiful additions to necklaces. A pendant can bring something sentimental or beautiful to your necklace, like an initial, birthstone, or a floral design. Many women choose pendants, and they are often given as gifts because they can be personalized.

A pendant can change the shape of your necklace. Having a pendant hanging from your necklace will make it more angular and could make your necklace appear longer. Take this into consideration if you are putting together an outfit with a pendant necklace.

A pendant necklace works well with a V-neck top but could get lost in a square neckline if it hangs too low. Also, if you have an angular face, it is generally best to avoid heavy pendants as they may emphasize those angles instead of softening them. 

Layering Necklaces

Mixing necklace lengths is one way to bring a fresh look with your necklace collection. As you layer your necklaces, you can bring in complementary pieces to create a cohesive new style.

Marco Bicego Marrakech Onde Yellow Gold Twisted Coil Link Lariat with Diamond Clasp

When layering necklaces, start with a necklace length that you have determined best flatters your body, face, and outfit as your foundation. Usually, a 16-inch necklace is a safe choice. This will be the shortest necklace in your ensemble. From there, you can find longer necklaces to add to your stack. If you are looking for a dramatic style, find longer necklaces to add depth.

In general, you want to keep the necklace lengths about two inches apart. Simple is best, and typically, you want no more than three necklaces at one time. If you have three necklaces, people’s attention will be drawn to the shortest and longest necklaces, so your middle necklace should be a simple piece.

Finding the right length of necklace can be a fun process of experimenting and self-examination. The wonderful thing about necklaces is that you can never have too many, so try different lengths with different outfits and explore your personal style as you find the best necklaces for you.