Some History About Pearl Necklaces Lengths

The most popular lengths and names for cultured pearl necklaces are, the choker, the Princess, the Opera, and the Rope. Of course the length of ones pearl necklace is an entirely personal matter and the pearl necklace ought to fit your preference and preferred length and be strung to order with knots in between each pearl to prevent loss should the string ever break, as well as to prevent to pearls rubbing together and marking each other.


Kokichi Mikimoto who lived from 1858 to 1954 was the originator of the Japanese Akoya Cultured Pearl and is universally credited for bringing these pearls to the world market. Due to his flair and extraordinary entrepreneurial skills, his first pearls were cultivated in 1893 and became commercially viable in the 1920's competing with the highly prized and priced naturally occurring pearls from the Persian gulf. Mr Mikimoto's dream was for every woman in the world to be able to own a cultured pearl piece of jewellery. By inventing and producing commercial quantities of these gems on the world market, he ensured that pearls could be worn in a variety of ways, as pearl rings, pearl earrings, pearl pendants, pearl brooches, pearl cufflinks, pearl bracelets and pearls necklaces.

Around this same time, Natural Pearls were so highly prized that the Cartier brothers; Pierre and Louis swapped two natural pearl strands and one hundred US dollars in 1917 with Morton F. Plant for his mansion that became Cartier's flagship building and store on Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street and the pearl necklaces were to adorn the neck of Mrs Mae Caldwell Mainwaring Plant. 

Back to the cultured pearl necklace lengths!

A pearl choker is typically between 14-16 inches long, equating to 36-41 centimetres. Such necklaces are classically stylish and always age appropriate, making them popular worldwide and make excellent presents for coming of age, graduations, birthdays, Christmas and religious festivals. This pearl necklace length is truly one of the most elegant and ever useful pearl necklaces in a jewellery collection, as can be formal or informal. Princess Grace of Monaco and Marilyn Munroe and Audrey Hepburn famously wore cultured pearl necklaces strung as chokers.

A Princess pearl necklace is 17-19 inches in length or 43 to 49 centimetres.. This length is not as tight as the classic choker necklace and by its length gives a bit more versatility for which clothes and dresses it can be worn with and is an excellent choice of length if you wish to go for versatility.

A matinee length pearl necklace is typically 20- 24 inches or 51 to 61 centimetres and again more versatile than a choker style necklace and longer than a princess length this allows the wearer to wear the necklace lower on the d├ęcolletage, over dresses, sweaters, and blouses and a variety of necklines. It is considered less formal than a choker, though these days there are no set rules for pearl lengths, it is entirely a personal preference . We have seen Harry Styles, Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith, Pharrell Williams and Justin Bieber to name a few men wearing pearl necklaces showing that pearl necklaces are now universally worn in so many varieties of ways.

A classic opera length strand is 26 to 35 inches or 66 to 89 centimetres and typically sold at 32 inches / 81 centimetres. When clasped this can be worn wrapped around twice as a two row choker and when worn long makes a timeless elegant cultured pearl necklace as seen through the iconic pictures of famous pearl wearers Coco Chanel and Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Princess Diana. Opera pearl necklaces can be worn long and short and the wearer can even tie a knot in the pearls to create a sautoir more vintage look so again these longer pearl necklaces offer a great deal of versatility and style.

The longest pearl necklaces are called ropes and these are usually 36 to 48 inches or 92 to 120 centimetres in length and these offer enormous varieties to be worn depending on your neck size as a three row pearl necklace or a double length longer necklace, or by tying a knot in the pearls it has the sautoir necklace look, or be worn slung over one's back for an extra special way of accessorising a dress or outfit or just as a long elegant rope reminiscent of the 1920's.

Whatever your budget or preferred length a cultured pearl necklace is a wonderful addition to your jewellery collection.

Author: Aquarian Pearls

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