Best Necklace and Bracelet Lengths

Best Necklace and Bracelet Lengths

What is the BEST Necklace Length?

18" necklaces are the most popular in the United States, but might not be the right length for the necklace that you're making.

The height and build of the person who will be wearing the necklace should be taken into consideration. Another option, is to use an adjustable chain as the base for your necklace.

The most common necklace lengths are:

  • 14" - This theoretically fits right where a tall button-up shirt collar would fit. 14" is too short for most adults... but chokers can be made adjustable.
  • 16" - This length is short and very popular for teens and petite women. It usually sits right at the neck line, in the space between the collar bones.
  • 18" - This is the most popular necklace size for women. It generally sits at the base of the neck, and is visible with most necklines. Some men with a slim build also prefer this length.
  • 20" - This is a popular length for both men and women. For most men, it sits near the neckline of a T-shirt, but for some men it may be a little too tight. For women, it sits a little lower on the chest, and looks great layered over a T-shirt, or with a low neckline. 
  • 24" is a classic length for pearls, lightweight beads, and sparkling clustered pendants. 20-24" necklaces strung with pearls or round gemstones were traditionally called "matinee" necklaces.
  • 28 - 36" necklaces are frequently called opera length, and can usually be slipped right over the head, so adding a clasp is optional. This style is most often worn with high necklines and/or evening wear. Or for casual wear, they are sometimes worn in combination with 2 to 4 additional, shorter necklaces, each with a different texture, color or pattern.
  • 42" necklaces can be wrapped 2-3x around the neck, and worn at different lengths on different days. A clasp is optional on extremely long necklaces like this.

Although short necklaces are called "chokers", they shouldn't actually fit so tight that they feel uncomfortable. One way to avoid discomfort and increase versatility, is to include a a few extra links (large enough to hook the clasp into) at the back of the necklace, creating an adjustable length choker.

Necklaces shorter than approximately 26" require a clasp, so when stringing a design, or cutting a chain, make sure to factor in the length of the clasp and any finishing findings.


Not sure what type of cord or clasp to use, and how to finish the ends?

For tips, options and techniques, check out these guides & projects:

Guide to Jewelry Stringing Materials
(scroll down if the Stringing Guide link doesn't jump you to the info below the categories)

Choosing Clasps & Finishing Methods: A Visual Guide

Quick References for Round Beads

How many beads do you need, to create the necklace you are designing? This chart details how many 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, etc. round (or cube) beads it takes to create a 16", 20", 24" or 36" strand. If you want to create an 18" necklace using a 16" strand of gemstones, you're in luck! The clasp and finishing findings will take up approximately 1" (depending on the size of your clasp, and how you finish your necklace), so now all you need is approximately 1" worth of spacer beads! Popular spacer bead options include glass seed beads, PRESTIGE crystal beads, small sterling silver beads, small gold-fill beads and base-metal heishi, disk beads, and small cubes.

Typical Number of Round Beads per Strand


16" strand 20" strand 24" strand 36" strand
3mm 136 169 203 305
4mm 102 127 153 229
5mm 81 102 122 183
6mm 67 85 102 152
8mm 50 64 76 114
10mm 40 51 61 92
12mm 33 42 51 76

Round bead size chart, courtesy of Rings & Things

What is the BEST Bracelet Size?

Bangle bracelets, cuff bracelets, chain bracelets and strung bead bracelets each have different considerations. 

  • Measure wrist circumference with a flexible measuring tape or string.
  • In the United States, the average wrist size for women is about 6-6.5", and the average chain or strung bracelet size is approx. 7".
  • For men in the US, the average wrist size is a bit over 7", so the average men's chain or beaded bracelet size is about 8". Your customers', friends' and family's wrists and preferences can easily vary +/- 1" or more.
  • Metal cuff bracelets (the type with an opening that slips on from the side of the wrist) may be bent slightly to adjust size when purchased, but should not be bent repeatedly. So having a few sizes/lengths available, or the option to create custom sizes, can really help your jewelry sales.
  • Leather cuff bracelets with a snap: use the "chain or bead cord" row below. Our leather cuffs have 2 or more snaps, making them adjustable.
  • If in doubt, size up, especially if the bracelet must slide over the hand, or if stringing large beads.
  Small Wrist
Medium Wrist
Large (or Men's)
Lg Men's
Bangle (wire/sheet length) 7.5-8" 8-8.25" 9" 10-11"
Bangle (inner diameter) 2.5" 2.7" 2.9" 3.2"
Chain or Bead Cord 6.25" 7" 8" 9-10"
Cuff  5 - 5.5" 5.25 - 5.75" 6-6.5" 7-7.75"

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Feb 22nd 2023 Polly Nobbs-LaRue

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