We've all been there: You go to pull out a necklace that you haven't worn in quite some time, only to find it's become enmeshed with other necklaces in your jewelry box or tangled up around itself. You might be tempted to put the necklace away indefinitely and just ignore the knots because, well, who has the time to sit and try to separate every little strand? But we’ll let you in on a little secret: They actually aren’t that hard to get out. Plus, there are plenty of ways to prevent the knots in the first place. Keep scrolling to learn how to untangle a necklace with ease.
Which necklaces are more prone to tangles?
According to Barkev Meserlian, founder and CEO of jewelry brand Barkev’s, chain necklaces tend to tangle the most. “Small, delicate links are more likely to tangle as they can easily become intertwined,” he explains. “Tiny links also make it harder to untangle a necklace without causing damage.” Unsurprisingly, layered necklaces also increase the risk of tangling because the multiple chains and pendants get caught on each other.
How to untangle a necklace: 2 simple steps
Patience is key when trying to untangle a necklace — this can take some time, and if you’re too aggressive, you might end up breaking it. Regardless of what method you choose, remember to clean your necklace according to the designer’s instructions right after you’re done so the finish isn’t damaged.
Step 1: Find something sharp
Jennifer Roane, co-founder of jewelry brand LeMel, recommends laying the necklace on a flat surface and enlisting the help of two small, thin and pointy objects, such as an unfolded paperclip, safety pin or needle (tweezers are also fair game). “These knots are tiny, and your fingers are too big to even try and get the knot undone,” she says. Use them to try and create a hole in the middle of the knot so you can pry it open.
Good lighting, Meserlian emphasizes, is a must “to avoid accidentally poking yourself.”
See this trick in action here:
Related: 16 Brilliant Uses for Toothpicks
Step 2: Enlist a liquid lubricant…
“This helps make the chain more slippery, so it’s easier to slide out the knot,” explains Meserlian. Her lubricant of choice is baby oil, but olive oil, soapy water and Windex can all get the job done as well. Dab a little bit on the tangled spot and gently rub on the knot with your fingers — this should loosen it up enough for you to be able to pick it out with your sharp object.
…Or a powder one
Powders such as baby powder, cornstarch and even flour can act as a lubricant as well, creating a barrier between the different parts of the necklace tangled up. Just like with a liquid, Meserlian says you should rub the knot between your fingers to loosen it.
Bonus tip: If you’re dealing with multiple entwined necklaces, make sure to unclasp them, as trying to untangle a closed loop will make it more difficult.
How to untangle a necklace: Ask your jeweler
If all else fails or you prefer to delegate, the good news is that most jewelers offer untangling services — for a price. For example, Roane says that LeMel offers untangling services starting at $15, and “the cost goes up depending on the number of knots and the time it takes to untangle the piece.”
How to prevent necklaces from getting tangled
What’s better than untangling a necklace? Never tangling it in the first place. There are many preventative measures you can take to ensure your necklaces stay knot-free.
To avoid tangles when wearing your necklace:
Add variety to your layers: Roane suggests mixing up the lengths, weights, and styles.
Run interference: If you’re wearing multiple necklaces at once, Roane says you should “run your fingers through them throughout the day to release any twisting.” This will help you avoid a big tangle at the end of the day.
To avoid tangles when storing your necklace:
Hang them up: Hanging them on hooks is an easy way to prevent tangling, but only if there’s only one necklace on each. You’re tempting fate if you double — or worse, triple—them up.
One easy way? Attach binder clips to a clothing hanger and hang them on the binders like below:
Lay them out before traveling: “Lay your necklaces flat in a jewelry organizer or wrap them around a piece of cardboard to prevent tangling,” says Meserlian. “Never throw them into a bag or suitcase without proper protection.” Also smart? Place them on a piece of cardboard and then wrap it in plastic wrap like below:
Store them in pouches: Roane likes to place her necklaces in individual bags with about an inch or so hanging out — usually the clasp.
For more jewelry tips, click through the links below!