Chain & Cord Lengths

It's one question everyone buying a chain needs to ponder: what length of chain or cord is going to work best for me? There are no hard and fast rules but since it’s a question we at 10STERLING come across regularly, we’ll try and provide you with a few pointers.

Neck measurement. This is where it begins. You don't have to be a paramedic to know that something tight around your neck isn't going to feel or look good. That means you need to choose a cord or chain the length which equals your collar size +1 inch, at least. So if your neck shirt measurement is 16 inches don't think about a cord or chain that’s less than 17 or 18 inches long. This is because everyone's neck is wider at the base than the part the collar goes round. If it’s too short then it'll look dorky: like a pair of jeans that's 2 inches too short.

16, 20 + 24 inch length chains. There are no connector rings on these dog tag pendants so they hang slightly higher than our silver or thick stainless steel dog tags that are fitted with connector rings.

This time with 18 + 22 inch ball chains. Note there are no connector rings on these dog tag pendants so they hang slightly higher than our silver or thick stainless steel dog tags that are fitted with rings.

Both short lengths (collar +1 inch) and longer lengths (anywhere down to the bottom of your breast bone) look more rock 'n' roll than lengths between the two. Between 18 inches and 24 inches lies the low risk 'safe' zone :-) So just decide which you are and then wear your dog tag with pride.

Visibility. Also think about what kind of clothes you generally wear, how easily the chain & pendant can be seen, and how you want it to be seen: in our humble opinion a good looking a dog tag pendant wants to be shown off. You need to consider when you'll wear it and if it'll stay on during all your activities: e.g. shorter rather than longer works better for sport. On the other hand, you'll want it to look good when you're out and about in the evening and longer can be better for that. If you want to cover all the bases then it’s probably best to get yourself a couple of chains / cords to cover all your outfits and activities.

Over the head? Another issue is the business of whether the chain & dog tag should be long enough to go over the wearer's head without being opened. In truth, it's not ideal if you're looking for a form of "never fail" ID because it can come off and that's why soldiers wear chains that have to be closed once around the neck: willingly or unwillingly, they're often being thrown about and it would be useless if it could pass over their head without being undone. Some movies (The Hurt Locker being one) have, however, sown the seeds of confusion! All ball chains are designed to open at the connector and be closed again any number of times.  

That said, a chain that's long enough to go over the wearer's head can be a good look. If you do want it to go easily over the wearer's head without being opened then we'd suggest a 26"+ chain. See what length you need by using a piece of string / cord because everyone is slightly different.

Shortening. Whatever length you choose it's a good idea, before you order, to find a bit of string, shoelace or other chain and try out different lengths in front of the mirror so you can get a good idea of the length that's going to suit you. For info, the 10STERLING silver, stainless and yellow metal ball chains can be easily shortened with a pair of combination pliers (obviously it can't be lengthened) so it can sometimes be good to err on the side of slightly too long if you're buying one of those because you can always shorten it.

We hope that helps. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to get in touch at