4 Ideas for Necklace Extensions

Oct 14, 2009

How do you deal with a necklace design that's perfect but too short?

Like most of you, when I design a new necklace I make it to my favorite length. I happen to prefer 16" necklaces because the focal bead sits just perfectly above my “Great Plains.” But if I’m making a necklace as a gift or to teach, I need to be sure that women of all different shapes and sizes can wear it. Not everyone’s got the Great Plains. Actually, most women I hang around with are more the, well…Grand Teton variety. So I usually make my necklace designs so they can easily be extended, either by the person that’s making it or by the person that’s receiving it.

Here are 4 ways to extend the length of a necklace:


Lisa Kan's
Autumn Bouquet
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Jennifer Van Benschoten's 
Back to Byzantium
1. Add more beadwork. If you’re stitching a beadwoven necklace, simply extend the strap or rope design to your desired length with the same or a different type of beaded strap. If the rope is too plain, incorporate other beads or embellishments to jazz it up a bit. Check out stitched necklaces like Lisa Kan’s Autumn Bouquet and Jennifer Van Benschoten’s Back to Byzantium to see the type of necklaces I’m talking about. See how they could easily be extended at the ends?

2. String extensions
. You can easily transition from stitched beadwork to strung beads, like my example here. Just crimp a short length of flexible beading wire to one end of one strap, string enough beads to reach the back center of your neck, and crimp on half of the clasp. Do the same with the other side and you’re golden.

Jean Campbell's
Fiori Necklace

Julia Zaccaria’s
Delicious Donuts

Lindsay Burke's
From the East
3. Attach extender chain. This is the simplest way to lengthen a necklace, as I’ve done with my Fiori Necklace. Just add a chain to one end of the strap and a lobster clasp to the other end. For some extra pizzazz, hang a little dangle at the end of the chain that incorporates a bead from the main necklace. You can also see this technique in Delicious Donuts by Julia Zaccaria and  From the East by Lindsay Burke.

Anne Timmons' 
Freshwater Pearl
Bridal Set
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Katie Hacker's 
Great Lengths Necklace
and Bracelet
4. Use a detachable extension. Use a bracelet with the same type of clasp and beads as your necklace to act as an extension. Just attach the bracelet clasp ends to their corresponding necklace clasp ends, and voilà! That’s at least 7" of extra length. Necklace/bracelet sets like Anne Timmons’ Freshwater Pearl Bridal Set and Katie Hacker’s Great Lengths Necklace and Bracelet work well for this concept.
Do you have other ideas for extending necklaces, or, for that matter, shortening them?
Please share them here and on the Beading Daily forums!

Featured Products

Autumn Bouquet

Availability: In Stock
Price: $4.00


Brick, herringbone, and peyote stitches unite in a stunning necklace of delicate flowers and leaves.


Back To Byzantium

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Price: $4.00


A radiant necklace based on an antiquity and created with brick, peyote, and herringbone stitches


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on Oct 14, 2009 8:01 AM
Personally I love the necklace-bracelet idea, but I have to make 2 bracelets so I can wear one AND have a spare one as an extension! Or what about making 2 necklaces, for that extra-long style. When you feel like wearing a bracelet, wrap one twice! Leslie Editor, Beading Daily
crinklequirk wrote
on Oct 14, 2009 4:26 PM
Although I have large Tracts of Land, I am and have always been short with small bone structure. While having kids ...enhanced my hourglass figure to a slightly larger model, my neck and collarbone are the same ~13-13.5 inches around, so most necklaces are still too large in scale, whether they are chokers or meant to ride the curves a little lower. Since I'm not alone in this problem, YES, folks, please put up your solutions for smaller, not larger, necklaces. There are plenty who will love and need them, like me. :)
Jane Lunders wrote
on Oct 14, 2009 5:01 PM
Jane A. Mainly I use magnets for closures. So I just make up various lengths of chain with a magnet on each end. I make up 2 and 2 1/2 and 3inch in both 14k gold and sterling. Then I can wear them at any length and over turtlenecks in particular.
JanG@25 wrote
on Oct 14, 2009 8:31 PM
With strung pieces using beading flex, I finish them with wire guards and crimp the ends before adding the clasp with a jump ring. That way, if a client wants a longer necklace, it's a matter of moments to add a bit of chain to the end. The necklace doesn't need restringing that way., and those who prefer short necklaces are happy, too.
AGJ wrote
on Oct 15, 2009 1:36 AM
For crinklequirk: I make a bracelet style using fancy button/seed bead loop closures. Made in multiples sized to the wearer's wrist, two make a choker; three a slightly longer necklace, all in proportion to the wearer. The buttons add focal interest.
on Oct 15, 2009 2:57 AM
If you have a loop and bar catch, simply make up extension pieces that also have loops and bars. Yoou can have multiple ones to make the necklace any length you please! I suppose you could also have multiple ones made up ready for use with any sale. Frances
on Oct 15, 2009 3:03 AM
I recently made a necklace where I didn't want any type of catch to be obvious. I put 2 magnestic catches into it, offset so that catchs were about an inch apart. The unintended surprise from this was that I could make the necklace longer simply by joining the end catches (leaving the shorter ones unused. Hope you follow me - a picture woould be worth 1000 words! Frances
bcroman wrote
on Oct 15, 2009 8:04 AM
Would someone please elaborate on how to attach a length of beading wire to the end of woven beadwork. It sounds so simple in example 2 of this article but I'm skeptical about how well a crimp would hold onto beading thread. More details would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
on Oct 15, 2009 8:18 AM
bcroman-you need to add a seed-bead loop to the end of the beadwork first. Then you can crimp the beading wire to the seed bead loop. This ensures that it's not a thread-to-wire connection, but a bead-to-wire one. Make sense?
bcroman wrote
on Oct 15, 2009 9:09 AM
Yes, perfect. Thanks!
Jane Lindsay wrote
on Oct 15, 2009 10:29 AM
About a year ago, I started making a series of bracelets. Instead of a focal bead, the center of each is an over-sized jump ring I make out of very large gauge wire, and they come with interchangeable charms on hooks (keys, large beads, metal flowers...) that can be attached to the center ring. When I made my first pair of these bracelets, I found that two of them together make the right length for a choker for my small neck! By mixing and matching bracelets and charms, I have an almost infinite selection of colors, styles, and even lengths (by using three or more bracelets) of necklace. And always with another bracelet to match! :)
rorykay wrote
on Oct 15, 2009 12:16 PM
Jean - You crack me up! 'Great Plains', indeed! Let me tell ya, we who identify with 'Grand Tetons' don't wear long necklaces or chains as invariably one of the Tetons ends up being 'looped' by them! I'd love to be able to wear longer strands but it's just not flattering. Rosemary K. Minneapolis
Bea@29 wrote
on Oct 18, 2009 9:04 AM
Save on beads and make a neclace/braclet... When I was in California last year I bought a lovely one. All the beautiful anitque beads hung in the front where they could be seen. Attached to this was an 8' silver chain. The chain could be added or removed when the piece was to be worn as a bracelet or a necklace...
on Apr 20, 2011 3:05 AM

Wonderful. I am a jewelry lover, but as to beading, i am a beginer. i love your post, after reading it, i learned  how to extend the length of a necklace. My mother is a litter fat, i want to make a beaded necklace as a gift to her, so  i can try your methods, i think it works well. Thanks!  

on Apr 20, 2011 3:08 AM

Wonderful. I am a jewelry lover, but as to beading, i am a beginer. i love your post, after reading it, i learned  how to extend the length of a necklace. My mother is a litter fat, i want to make a beaded necklace as a gift to her, so  i can try your methods, i think it works well. Thanks!