Sarah Millsop’s Necklaces 101: Lengths, Names & History [Infographics]
There are certain names given to necklaces of each length, and these have varied in popularity over the years as fashion and materials that have been used have changed with the times. I thought it might be nice for us to take a quick look back over the years and changing trends before looking at the many styles of necklaces we wear today.
Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, we began to see more fashion-led and evolving jewellery trends from the metal and precious stones previously used. Chokers were worn rather than the collar styles seen in the centuries before, and natural materials like coral and pearl were used.
Jewellery and the way it was viewed changed a lot in the 17th century. With new methods to diamond cutting techniques, the emphasis moved from the stone settings and metals… to the stones themselves! Men no longer wore jewellery as a sign of wealth and women’s styles became simple and delicate. Simple strands of pearls and delicate stones on velvet ribbons were all it took to create a stylish look.
Portrait pendants and imitation stones were the fashion accessories of the late 17th to 18th century. In some cases, a simple neck ribbon was all that was worn. As the necklines became lower in the 18th and 19th century, the jewellery became more extravagant.
Multiple chains adorned with gems and cameos were worn and pieces could be broken down into multiple uses, single chain necklaces and brooches, or all fixed together for a high statement piece! Greek and Roman jewellery were replicated using machines, and electroplating meant expensive looking jewellery could be made more affordably.
The Edwardians reverted back to natural materials; beads would be made from horn, bone, porcelain, mother of pearl, and glass. But it was Chanel in the early 1900s who really gave way to costume jewellery. By the 1960s, it was widely worn by both men and women. The styles, lengths, and materials changed with the seasons and fashions, which opened up the possibilities of really expressing yourself with accessories every day.
What fascinates me is that people have been adorning themselves with jewellery in one way or another for centuries. I just love that we can still draw inspiration and design aspects from the changing styles, even today.
Necklace Sitting Lengths 101:
So that you can create your own wears and find styles and lengths that suit you, we’ve created an easy-to-follow illustration showing you the standard sitting for lengths so that you can refer to them as a professional would.
14 inches: High Neck
Very popular at the moment and often multi-layered, a simple ribbon embellished with a charm or simple small strand of beads sits in the middle of your neck. You can also secure a long length of cord at a high neck position, tie in a bow, and allow the tails to dangle with beaded drops at the ends.
16 inches: Choker
This sits lower on the neck and can also be the starting point for a collar.
18 inches: Princess
Often chains of fine metals are sold at this length and embellished with a simple motif/charm.
20-24 inches: Matinee
Typically just a single strand of beads that sits at the top of the cleavage.
30-35 inches: Opera
Long strands that sit at the breastbone.
36+ inches: Rope & Lariat
There are two styles that are longer than the Opera lengths:
‘Rope’: can sit anywhere from your breastbone to a waistline on your clothes.
‘Lariat’: this has no clasp and is just an extra-long strand of beads that can be worn doubled or tripled over, tied in knots, or draped at varying lengths for multi-strand effects.
With these guidelines, you can check your pieces whilst making them to ensure they are a good length. To make them wearable for any neck size (especially the shorter styles), you can add extender chains for extra inches.
I really hope these charts give you an extra helping hand when designing and beading. It can often be some of the hardest things to get your head around when making your jewellery! To give you a little more guidance, you can also refer to the chart above which highlights some of the designs and lengths that work best with various necklines. We sometimes need that perfect accessory to accompany an outfit… so make sure you are selecting the best designs!
Lots of love, Sarah x