Oct 7

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

By Calla Gold

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.

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,


20 thoughts on “Necklace Shorteners and Adapters, Jewelry Tools to Love for Your Long Necklaces

  1. Dear Calla,
    All the pictures are so helpful to visualize how these necklace shorteners and adapters work. These jewelry tools are really a great idea.
    I love that you share information like this.
    I have the perfect necklace to shorten. It is 40″ long and I find that when I double it it ends up choking me and the other end gets too long. So I quit wearing it. I’m calling you for one of those figure eight shorteners. I hope you have them!

  2. Hi Calla,
    Jewelry shorteners and adapters are such a great idea! I didn’t know these little guys existed. You have brought my unworn long jewelry back to life. Thank you for sharing such great tools.

    • Patricia,
      I’m so delighted that you’ll be able to use these little jewelry tools with your long necklaces!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  3. I have a fine beaded necklace which I would like to shorten occasionally. Will the shortening adapter work for this and where can I find one?

    • Hi Gwen,
      Thanks for writing. I’d like to see a picture or two of your necklace to get a sense of the bead size. If there is no narrower space between them for the shortener to grab onto, it wouldn’t help you. But with a picture I can see what you mean by fine beaded necklace.
      Use my calla@callagold.com email. If I don’t respond email me without the images and we’ll get it together.
      I hope I can help.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  4. Kindly let me know, which site sells these jewellery shorteners n adapters. Thanks

  5. Great post!

    I am searching for something my Mom advised me to use. I have a lovely long pearl necklace that I like to wear regularly or as a 2-strand. My favourite way to wear it is long and “pinched” under the chest (I use a tiny broach to hold the 2 sides of the necklace close together under the chest – which gives it a “narrower” open look).

    I am not sure I could explain that well?

    Anyways, my Mom said she used to own a tiny “clip” made of gold or white gold depending on what style her pearl necklace was back in the day – that clip was very small just to slide the pearls through at each side and then could be closed. It was much more subtle than even the tiniest broach to pinch the necklace narrow together for wear.

    Have you heard of this and would you know the name for it? I googled a lot, asked a lot of jewellery sellers, and non one could help me so far.

    I imagine it would have to look like your figure eight shortener, but am not sure if it would fit that purpose? Please kindly advise me if you can! thank you!

  6. My father recently bought a long chain for my mother and it has a bead that the chain passes through in order to make the chain shorter. Would you know what it would be called?

    • Hello Tricia,
      I have seen chains with a shortening element, whether it is a bead or other shape. I am not aware that there is a particular name for it. Probably as it is an unusual option, but a good one.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  7. I am looking for a pearl necklace shortener. I wanted the length to be 18″ but they were restrung to 22″. I just want to be able to adjust them in the back to a length where they will lay t the base of NY neck…..

    • Hi Julie,
      Probably the figure 8 shortener would be your best bet as you can adjust the length. The problem is the weight of the part of the necklace that you want to shorten. If it works its way around the front it looks weird.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  8. I am interested in your figure 8 shortener for 36” strand of 8 mm freshwater pearls. What is the price?

  9. I have an 18″ and a 20″ strands of pearls that I would like to wear together sometimes. Is there an apparatus that can temporarily attach them so they look like one necklace? The strands are the same size pearls and the clasps are the same.

    • Hi Susan,
      That figure 8 shortener should keep both clasps in the same place so your necklace will look like a double strand and you’re not fighting with clasps going every which way.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  10. I have two pearl necklaces each 18 inches long made from pearls both from my mom and from my wedding necklace that will be gifts for my two granddaughters. one has a 14 k gold clasp and one a white gold clasp. as the girls will get them when they are 13, 18 inches will be long for them.
    I heard about figure 8 shorteners, where would I find these to match the clasps?
    The pearls were restrung 6 months ago, and one will be given in November. Would love
    to have the shorteners to include with the pearls. They are 7.5-8 mm pearls
    thank you

    • Hello Susan,
      The figure eight shorteners are most often used to double a necklace. One of the problems with using them to shorten a necklace is that you end up with a heavy item behind the neck. If you’ve ever had the experience of a chain whose (heavier than the chain) clasp keeps coming around the front due to gravity and the fact that we turn our heads a lot, image the shortener constantly coming around the front for these young ladies.
      My recommendation would be to restring them to 16″ with their respective clasps and offer to resting them with the extra two inches on their 18th birthday.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

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