Necklace Shorteners and Adapters, Jewelry Tools to Love for Your Long Necklaces

Did This Ever Happen to You?

Ever Get Choked by Your Necklace? I had a fun super long pearl necklace that I bought to double and triple. Boy I loved it till the first time I doubled it. All day I had to grab it as I'd turned my head and when I turned back I was choking.

I'd used one of my favorite jewelry tools, the oval shortener to double it. It turns out that not all shorteners are created equal. And that's a good thing because my old favorite oval shortener that I was going to brag about kinda failed me big time the first time I used it on this necklace.

So What is a Necklace Shortener?

oval shortener, open and shut

Oval Shortener

The shortener was invented to shorten pearls and beaded necklaces by allowing you to double them up. It also works well to combine necklaces in a pretty twist.

I'd like to dispel a misunderstanding about shorteners. If you have a 20" necklace and you want to shorten it to a 16" necklace this is not a job for a shortener. Even one of the extra special ones mentioned below that stop pearls from sliding through.

What happens is you make your necklace 16" with one of these shorteners, pulling the excess pearls behind your neck. And within 15 minutes the clumpy bit from behind your neck is falling down your chest looking like your drunk uninvited Uncle Eddy at the wedding.

What Length of Necklace Works Best with Shorteners?

Drawing of Necklace Shortener by itself and with a necklace

An Oval Necklace Shortener Halves the Length of These Pearls

Long and simple bead and pearl necklaces have been very popular at different times.

This is not one of those times.

Short is in! Don't let your long necklaces lay unworn in your jewelry box. Try out the necklace shortener idea and find a way to be up date and different with your long necklace.

If you're thinking of buying a long necklace to double, try a 32" at minimum in length. Doubled you'll end up with a two strand 16" necklace.

Try Combining Two or More Long Necklaces into One

Drawing of Necklace Shortener used with two necklaces

Two Long Necklaces are Combined Here for Interesting Texture and Color Combining using the Necklace Shortener

Sometimes a chunky celebration of color at the neck makes you glow. Try taking two or more long necklaces and twisting them with a large oval necklace shortener.

What I love about doing this is that it's temporary and involves no restringing or redesigning. The sudden versatility you gain with new ways of wearing necklaces you already own is inspiring.

My outfit often feels newer and more special when I've concocted a new necklace combo to wear with it.

Options with Necklace Shorteners?

Necklace Shortener in 14kt Yellow Gold, Figure Eight Style - Calla Gold Jewelry

Figure Eight Necklace Shortener to Anchor Each Strand to a Certain Length

Necklace shorteners come in a variety of shapes and sizes, much like sapphires come in an array of colors.

The first shorteners were ovals and simple.

The oval shortener allows the necklace beads to shift and move and slide back and forth.

The first appeal of the oval shortener was how a woman could combine two necklaces.

But then we found that sometimes it couldn't shorten that favorite necklace reliably.

When Oval Shorteners Let us Down

Necklace shortener in figure 8

This Figure Eight Necklace Shortener Holds Pearls at a Particular Length

When you use a classic oval necklace shortener it works best if you are making your necklace very close to the base of your neck.

Your necklace barely moves throughout the day as there is little room for it to move.

When the oval shortener is used to create longer lengths, like 20" and 19" for each strand, one strand can tighten up until it's a super short 16" allowing the other to lengthen to 23."

With my Figure Eight Enhancer Holding the Pearls at the Knot, They Stay Put!

In other words the shorter strand can end up feeling uncomfortably like a choker. Jewelry problems can be fixed.

The oval shortener would let the beads slide through when you moved, unless they were very large. Much like the choke-y picture at the top of the blog.

As happy as I was to discover shorteners some years ago, I found that I couldn't choose the exact lengths I wanted for the necklace of my outfit when I needed longer lengths.

I refused to use a safety pin. Happily a nice jeweler somewhere heard my cries and solved my problem.

Happily the figure eight necklace shortener was created. It was created to lock in place the area of shortening that you choose.

Figure Eight Necklace Shorteners and Tinier Ones

Pearl Shortener in action

This Tiny Circular Shortener was made for Very Small Pearls

The figure eight shortener's middle pinched section will hold the pearls or beads from moving when you turn your head or jump for joy.

This gives you more control over the lengths of your shortened necklace. This is especially helpful when your outfit's neckline calls for a specific length.

One of my clients had a long 4mm pearl necklace that no shortener would work for. All the ones she tried let the pearls slide through. I found her this tiny circle one on the left that held her pearls at her preferred length.

We're Not Done! What is an Adapter?

Drawing of Necklace Adapter open and used on a bead necklace

A Wonderful Way to Adapt a Small Bail Pendant to Ride on Your Pearls or Bead Necklace

An adapter is a jewelry gadget that allows a pendant that has a small bail ( The part the chain rides through) to be worn on a large bead necklace.

It literally adapts the smaller bail to act like a larger one.

An adapter works by having a curving hook that your bail slips securely onto.

Next it also has a hinging back section that opens and closes again between the beads in the knot area of your necklace. This lets the pendant nestle there attractively.

The adapter has been especially helpful for my clients that wear their pendants on chains happily, and just once in a while want to wear them on their pearls or another beaded combo.

Adapters vs. Hinging Enhancers

Enhancer Bail Closed on Necklace

This Bold Abalone Pendant Worn as an Enhancer Bail on Blue Pearls

For my clients who have no interest in changing their bail to a hinging enhancer, bail adapters are wonderful. (See my blog post about hinging enhancer bails to see the difference.)

The occasional need to wear your pendant on pearls or beads is solved with this temporary removable adapter.

Using the Shortener and Adapter Together

Enhancer Pendant between two strands of necklace

Pendant Framed Between Two Strands of One Previously Long Shortened Necklace

Use a figure eight shortener to shorten a very long necklace. Create a two inch space between the top strand of pearls or beads. Use the adapter to hang a pendant from the top strand. The bottom strand will frame it nicely.

A Woman's Jewelry Toolbox

In addition to your lovely jewelry, think about having a few jewelry tools, like necklace shorteners and adapters, to make your jewelry collection more versatile.


Your Versatile Jeweler,

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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5 years ago

Hi Calla!
Great info. Where can I find the figure 8 shortener & adapter for wearing pendant with my pearls? Cant seem to find on Amazon.

Ann Heatherton
Ann Heatherton
4 years ago

Hi there, years ago I bought a three-strand apatite necklace. I really love the appetite but the three strands close to my neck is just too fussy. I would like to convert the strands into one long necklace. I think that would be way more casual and more my style. Is this called restringing? Do you provide that service?

3 years ago

Hi Calla,
thanks a million for the info, real help. Do you have any suppliers from where I can buy any of shortener / adapter?

Jodi H
Jodi H
3 years ago

Hi there!
My grandmother is lending me her pearl necklace to wear in my wedding this coming April. However, it’s just a little too long. The other problem is that the beads are smaller at the clasp (about 4mm) and then gradually get bigger on either side until the single largest bead in the front. I’ve been unable to find a shorter that will handle the smaller beads by the clasp — but I see in your post that you’ve found possibly what I’m looking for before. Is this something you could help me with?! Thank you!!