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The Different Types of Pearl Necklace

Pearl necklaces are a popular form of jewellery and there are many types and colours to choose from. They are graded by the size of the pearls and by the length. Each different necklace is suitable for a different look at how you intend to wear it will influence which style you choose. You're sure to find some for a pearl wedding anniversary gifts. The following are the most common styles of pearl necklace. 

Pearl Necklace

There are two main ways of describing a necklace based on pearl size and they are uniform and graduated. The most common necklace type is uniform and it is a string of pearls all of the same size. A graduated necklace has pearls of different sizes all of which are arranged so that they run from smallest to biggest to smallest in such a way that when you wear it the largest pearls are at the front.

Pearl necklaces never run out of style. They are always classy, elegant and quite flexible as wardrobe accessories. They are one of the most popular gift choices for weddings, being the birthstone of June and they have a lasting, mystical appeal that has been celebrated for thousands of years.

Pearls are rarer when they are produced naturally but while cultured pearls are quite affordable, their quality is in no way inferior to that of natural pearls. To an untrained eye, it is very difficult to tell a natural pearl from its cultured cousin. The only way to differentiate is probably to use x-ray where a 'nucleus' will be spotted in the cultured variety.

Some of the more common types of pearls used in necklaces are Mikimoto, Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea Pearls. Mikimoto is the highest quality pearls and comes in different colours. Akoya pearls often come in white, cream or silver while Tahitian and South Sea pearls have darker colours. Saltwater pearls are more expensive than freshwater pearls.

Pearl Necklace Lengths

Choosing the right length of pearl necklace depends on the wearer's age, neck size and overall body composition. In general, long necklaces tend to elongate the neck and draw attention away from it, as opposed to shorter-length ones which flatter longer necks. Here are the different lengths of pearl necklaces recommended for every woman's unique need:

  • Collar - typically 10 to 13 inches long and are quite flexible either for evening wear or casual day wear. These are worn high on the neck, above the base. Another style is the dog collar, which is made of several strands, quite popular in the Victorian era and slowly making a comeback.
  • Choker - 16 to 18 inches long, chokers surround the base of the neck. A good choice for ladies with long, thin necks because chokers can de-emphasize the throat's length.
  • Princess - at 17 to 20 inches long, this is the most popular length, classic enough to match any outfit or neckline.
  • Matinee - 20 to 24 inches long. These work well worn with dresses, business suits and corporate wear and are a great choice for occasions requiring semi-formal wear.
  • Opera - 28 to 34 inches long, usually worn during formal events and occasions. Because of its length, this pearl necklace may be doubled to form two strands. When worn as is, it should ideally reach the bust line.
  • Rope or sautoir - the longest, starting at 37 inches, worn best with pantsuits. Rope-length pearls don't have to hang from the wearer's neck alone. They could be doubled or knotted for more style flexibility. Some even come with multiple clasps, which allow the wearer to use the necklace in shorter lengths.

Short necks will do well-wearing pearl strands that sit at least 2" below the collarbone while thick or heavy necks will look good in graduated chains with lengths beginning at 18". Long thin necks are flattered by shorter lengths, especially those that sit at the base of the neck, following the curve of the throat.

Fleshy necks look better in necklaces that lie below the base, especially if the strand is segmented or comes with a square, rectangular or any pointed pendant. Necks that are wide at the base need necklaces that are at least 1" below the collarbone or longer strands.

Pearl Necklace Styles

Other styles of pearl necklaces are the bib which, as the name implies, covers the base of the neck and the upper part of the chest in several strands of varying lengths. Another option is the graduated necklace which consists of pearls in graduated lengths, usually with the biggest pearl/s in the middle. A popular style is the uniform necklace where pearls of similar size are strung together.

Pearl Colours and Size

While white, cream, pink or silver pearls generally will look good on anyone, they can best enhance the fairer skin. Gold or yellow pearls will look best on the darker-toned skin.

Generally, younger women should wear smaller pearls. At this point in their lives, they could show off their youthful necks with smaller-sized chains and pendants. Older women may want to use longer-length pearl necklaces to draw attention away from their necks. They can also wear bigger pearls with wider, double- or triple-strand chains.

One of the best ways to buy matching jewellery is to get ones that come in a set. This way, you have a necklace, a pair of earrings and either a ring or bracelet that come in matching styles. However, if you prefer just the necklace, some jewellers will allow you to buy one off a set.

Necklace lengths vary greatly and many different styles of pearl necklace are now available. The shortest is the collar which will be between 10 and 13 inches long. Slightly longer is the choker. Both of these styles sit snugly around the neck and are very popular as they can be worn with almost anything. Mid-length styles are the princess, which is between 17 and 19 inches long, and the matinee, which can be up to 24 inches long. These styles hang between the collarbone and to above the breasts and are semi-formal. They wear well with business suits and more stylish dresses. The longer styles of pearl necklace are the opera, which can be up to 34 inches long, and the rope which is over 45 inches long. Both of these styles are traditionally worn for formal occasions.

Within these common styles, there is a huge variety of necklaces available. Other factors to be considered when choosing a necklace will be the size of the pearls, the quality and their colour. Pearls today are much more affordable as they are grown in large numbers on pearl farms. However, it is still the case that the larger the pearl and the more unusual the colour the more a necklace will cost.

With this information in hand, you can surely find a pearl wedding anniversary gifts.


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