How to Choose and Wear a Necklace
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There are so many wonderful Native American necklace choices, from heishi to silver beads, that choosing one can be a bit overwhelming. That's why I am going to try to make your selection process a bit easier with some gentle guidance.
For example, if you are shopping for a choker that you want to wear around your neck (as opposed to on top of a shirt or blouse), the measurement you will use will be a bit more critical because you want the choker to fit your neck and hang just the way you like it. Two people with the same neck size might choose two different size chokers. Some people like a choker very high and rather snug so might choose a 16" choker while others don't like the feel of a tight fit and like a bit of a drape to their chokers so might choose an 18" choker. So get out your favorite necklace or take a piece of cord and test it out in front of a mirror. Wear it around for an hour or so to be sure that size is comfortable.
Men usually wear chokers in the 18-20+ inch range. For some reason, that size range is difficult to find in Native American jewelry so we've had to special order a group of those for our male customers.
The 21-22 inch necklaces can either serve as a choker or a necklace, depending on your size and wearing preference.
If you are looking for a necklace, one that drapes longer or that you can use over your clothes or as a necklace to hang a pendant on, then you will want to put a necklace or test cord under your collar and decide where you want your necklace to hang. The choker or necklace that is perfect during the summer won't fit over your turtlenecks and shirts in the fall and winter - so for over clothing, you'll need to purchase one 1-3" longer depending on the thickness of the fabrics you usually wear.
Most women's necklaces are in the 21-30 inch range. The length you choose will depend on your height (the length of your upper torso) and your personal preference for drape.
Many necklaces can double as a place to hang a pendant so if that is your goal, be sure the fastener on the end is not too large so it will fit through the loop on the back of the pendant or through the or pendant bail. If you are using a pendant with a Shepherd's Hook, this won't be an issue.
Native American made necklaces are priced according to the artist's reputation, skill and ability and the materials they use. It is also based on the length of the necklace, so in effect, you pay by the inch ! But most importantly, you are paying for art - wearable art is priceless.
One final piece of advice that we have learned first hand. When it comes to Native American jewelry, if you see something you like, you should purchase it because it may very likely not be available again. Unlike manufactured jewelry that is machine made and available in large quantities, Native American jewelry is make one piece at a time and although a particular artist might make a dozen of a particular necklace in one year, the next year, he or she might make none.
The Santo Domingo, Navajo and Zuni artists are constantly creating new ways of using their traditional materials and designs to make beautiful jewelry. We have often had the opportunity to purchase, let's say 5 or 6 of an item, but for one reason or another, we only took one or two but then when we tried to get more, there just were not any available ! So it you like it, buy it !