Styles and Lengths of Pearls
Because the history of pearls has been very much a part of the history of nobility, there have been many customs and social expectations that have arisen around pearls. One of these has to do with styles and lengths.
Graduated: Beads are graduated in size, with the largest in the center, and decreasing in size on either side towards the clasp.
Uniform: All the pearls are within .5mm of each other in size.
Choker: One or more strands worn just above the collarbone, typically 15 1/2" to 16 1/2".
Princess: 18" length
Matinee: 22–24" length
Opera: 30–32" length
Continuous Strand: A necklace without a clasp, typically over 26" in length so that it can slip over someone’s head.
Bib: A necklace with many strands, each one longer than the one above it.
Rope: 45" or longer, sometimes referred to as a lariat.
A necklace enhancer, sometimes referred to as a “necklace shortener”, is like a ring with a latch on one side and a hinge on the other, which lets you open and securely close it. These are most often used with ropes, where you circle the rope over your head 2 or 3 times, to wear like a multi-strand choker. The necklace enhancer clips over the knots in the encircling strands, to secure them together and in place. If you cannot find a necklace enhancer, you might be able to use an S-clasp to achieve the same end.
Odd vs. Even number of strands: This is a personal choice. Traditionally, it was believed that an even number of strands was inappropriate and bad luck. It would be very unusual to see any royalty wear an even number of strands.