A question we get quite often is, "How do I measure the length of my pearl bracelet/strand?"
The easiest answer is by measuring the total length of the strand from end to end, including the full length of the clasp on one side to the jump ring connecting to the "tongue," or part that is inserted into the clasp when fastened.
Click the image below to zoom in on an example.
The bracelet measures exactly 7.5 inches while the necklace/strand measures exactly 16 inches.
But why is length rarely perfectly exact the way it always is with chains or other jewelry?
A strand will rarely measure the exact indicated length. This is because no two pearls are alike; they are organic gems that are categorized according to a size spectrum. Therefore, a person might measure their strand and notice that the expected 18 inches in length may actually be more like 18.1 inches. This is especially true with strands that consist of larger pearls. The finished necklace may measure 18.05 inches because if one pearl were to be removed, the strand would then only measure 17.9 inches. An experienced and professional stringer will know this and he/she will aim for the absolute closest to 18 inches possible.
Knotting in between each pearl will add length to a strand, therefore what was a 16-inch loose hank (unknotted temporary strand) before stringing will probably turn into an 18-inch finished necklace once we knot in between each pearl and add the length of the clasp.
If you purchased a necklace or bracelet some time back, you might notice that it seems a bit longer now than when you first purchased it. This is because most necklaces are strung on silk thread, which loosens over time, and which may lead to the pearls having slightly more space between one another than when the necklace was freshly strung. In a similar fashion, restringing a necklace with thinner thread or thicker thread might make the length of the necklace slightly shorter or longer, respectively.
A tip for bracelets: If you usually wear 7.5-inch bracelets (the standard length), and wish to purchase a bracelet composed of large or very large pearls, you will most likely need the bracelet to be slightly longer than usual in order to compensate for the space that the diameter of the pearls take up.