Pearl Necklaces

Pearl necklaces are the classic pearl jewellery, worn for centuries by wealthy women as a status symbol. They are typically strands of Akoya pearls, but Freshwater, Tahitian and South Sea pearls are also used. A traditional pearl necklace consists of large, round, white pearls, but the more modern necklaces exhibit different colours, shapes and sizes.


A uniform necklace consists of pearls that are all the same size or measure within 0.5mm of each other, so a necklace will say something similar to 7-7.5mm in its description. A graduated necklace is one which consists of pearls of different sizes. The pearl in the centre of the necklace will be the largest, with them gradually getting smaller. There is often a range of at least 3mm difference between the pearl sizes. Graduated necklaces are more affordable because many of the pearls are smaller and thus worth less than a uniform strand of pearls.


The value of pearls used in a necklace is determined by the shape, size, colour, lustre and perfection of the pearl. Large, round pearls are the most valuable, which makes the traditional pearl necklaces so desirable.


Pearl necklaces come in a variety of lengths. Whereas most necklaces are referred to simply by their length, pearl necklaces are named by whereabouts they hang around the neck, and lengths inferred from these names.

  • Collar pearl necklaces are 12-13 inches long. These consist of multiple strands of pearls that sit high up the neck against the throat.
  • Choker pearl necklaces are 14-16 inches long, more commonly used for formal wear. These sit just at the base of the neck.
  • Princess pearl necklaces are the most popular, classic length. These are 17-19 inches long and can be for casual wear or formal events. If you are unsure about which length to go for, a princess length is a good choice. These come down to just below the collar bone.
  • Matinee pearl necklaces are 20-24 inches long and work well with suits and dresses. These are ideal for high necklines, and add sophistication to any look.
  • Opera pearl necklaces are 28-36 inches long. These are usually worn at formal evening events and fall just beneath the breastbone. Opera pearl necklaces can also be worn as a double-stranded necklace.
  • Rope pearl necklaces are very long, often measuring over 45 inches in length but classified as any hanging lower than an opera necklace. They can be doubled, tripled or knotted to be worn in different styles.


There are traditional ideas about the sizes of pearls that are appropriate for different age groups. Traditionally, smaller pearls (5.5-6mm) are suitable for young women, whereas pearls that measure 9-10mm in diameter are suitable for wealthy, more mature women, and are worn as a status symbol. Some of the less traditional pearl necklaces are just as beautiful, a baroque pearl necklace means that each pearl is a completely unique shape, and freshwater multicoloured pearl necklaces bring a modern twist to a traditional item of jewellery.





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