Necklace Guide

Take a woman's age and body type into account when helping her find the right necklace. Something just didn't look right in the photograph of my good friend. Everything was in focus, her smile was wonderful, but something was wrong. Her necklace threw me off – it didn't frame her face correctly.

Choosing the right chain or necklace isn't hard. Several factors steer this decision, including age, body shape and body composition.

Gauge by Age: Generally speaking, a woman's age plays a distinct role in determining the length of the necklace she should choose. Younger women with youthful skin should wear necklaces closer to the throat to show off their smooth skin. The gauge or thickness of the necklace should be narrow. Smaller pearls show best on youthful necklines. Pendants and charms should be on the small side too. Younger women who wear bigger, wider and flashier necklaces can look like they're trying to play "dress up" with their mother's jewelry.

Older women will want longer chains and necklaces to draw attention away from the neck and any apparent imperfections. Eighteen to 24 inches is a good general length. Gemstones or pendants should be two or more inches below the neckline. The longer necklace "elongates" the neck and frames the hair and face, creating an overall pleasing look. These women can wear bigger and wider chains and necklaces. Pearls and beads should be in excess of 7 mm. Keeping size proportional, charms and pendants should be larger too.

Composition Class: After considering age, overall body composition, especially of the neck and the face, is important in choosing the right necklace. Most of the time, I follow these guidelines:

Long thin neck: Have this customer try a triple strand of pearls, with the shortest strand hugging the base of the throat. The pearls should taper up with the curve of the throat. Avoid V-shaped chains. Softer, rounder necklaces are good, such as an 8mm-10mm omega.

Bony neck: Medium to large necklaces. Avoid the base of the neck, the necklace should fall at least one inch below the collarbone.

Soft, contoured, fleshy neck: Show this customer a "hard" necklace. Segmented is good, and it should be close to the base of the neck. Try making a statement with an angular pendant.

Wide-based neck: Use flexible chains that drape well. Be sure the center is at least one inch below the collar bone. This customer is a good candidate for a longer chain. A 24-30-in. necklace helps negate the wideness at the base of her neck.

Short neck: Wear chains starting two inches below the collarbone.

Heavy or thick neck: Wear larger chains and necklaces, especially graduated and 18 inches and longer.