Whether creating a necklace for yourself or as a gift, the length of the chain is a key factor in the way the necklace looks and feels around the neckline. Measure the size of your neck in advance to get a better idea of the ideal length of chain based on the planned design of the necklace.
Measuring the Neck
- Fabric tape measure
- Pull several feet of ribbon from the roll, or work with a scrap piece at least 24 inches long.
- Wrap the ribbon around your neck or a friend's neck, choker-style, with the end of the ribbon in the front.
- Draw a dot with a marker where the ribbon meets the end of the ribbon to determine neck circumference.
- Spread the ribbon out straight next to a fabric tape measure, also spread out smooth and straight, to measure the ribbon length up to the dot. This is the neck measurement.
Necklace Style Factors
The style of necklace -- where it rests on the neckline -- determines the general length of the chain even more than neck measurement. For instance, an 18-inch chain rests at or just below the collarbone, on average, on a woman's neck, while the same chain sits at the base of the neck around the average man's neck. A 20-inch chain reaches below the collarbone, while a 22-inch chain may be better suited for an outfit with a plunging neckline if the chain is worn with a pendant. For a low-hanging necklace such as a strand of beads or pearls, a 36-inch chain allows you to loop the necklace around again for a layered look.
It's Up to You
Ultimately, the perfect chain length depends upon what feels comfortable and looks right to you, depending upon the outfit worn with it and the pendant hanging upon it. For best results, cut a long piece of ribbon and adjust the length around your neck as if it is a necklace, looking in the mirror as you do so. Pinch the ribbon where it meets the other end of the ribbon; then measure it against a tape measure for the ideal chain length based upon your plans for the necklace.
If possible, make or purchase the chain with adjustable add-on links at the end; this way you'll be able to secure the clasp in one of several different areas to change the necklace length.