How to Pull Off the Layered Gold Necklace Trend
Unlike so many short-lived trends that flit across the world of fashion and accessories, gold jewelry has the unique ability to feel contemporary and yet remain coveted throughout the ages.
Personal jewelry pieces have been uncovered in archaeological discoveries across the world, from early prehistoric sites to Ancient Egyptian tombs. Gold jewelry even has its own hieroglyph, taking the form of a broad collar necklace, which honestly sounds like something we’d all still wear today. The popularity of gold jewelery endures, making a statement everywhere from social media to editorials to the looks you’ll see out and about. Gold necklaces continue to be lauded as must-have jewelry fundamentals, modernized through the super current layered necklace and stacked chain sets trends.
A look from centuries ago that’s still hot today? It doesn’t get more timeless than that!
How to Layer Your Gold Necklaces
The great thing about this trend is that you’re probably not starting from scratch, as you may already have a variety of gold chains in your jewelry box to begin experimenting with layering. Follow these necklace stacking guidelines to see how to style what you’ve got and where there’s room to add to your collection.
1. Mix Gold Necklace Chain Styles and Widths
Keep the scales of your gold necklaces different by combining a variety of styles, including chunky chains and thick necklaces with finer, more delicate strands. This provides a sense of visual balance and an interesting mix. From herringbone and figaro chains to rope and curb chains, all styles and proportions make for great layering elements.
(Tip: Thicker rope chains gold necklaces will sparkle and shine the most, so to maximize your layered necklace effect, opt for a statement staple that’s sure to catch the eye!)
2. Aim for a Variety of Lengths
As a rule of thumb, have at least one long necklace (about chest–length), one medium length (falling below the collarbone, but landing above the chest), and one or two that sit close to the top of your collarbone or base of your neck. You could even add a choker. This graduating variation draws the eye upwards without cluttering your neckline. Fill in any gaps or other areas according to your taste. Unless you want to explicitly evoke the aesthetic of Mr. T, however, you may want to avoid going overboard. Here’s a ready-made option to try if you’re unsure.
3. Incorporate Charms, Medallions and Gemstones
To add eye-catching details to your necklace stack, throw in small pops of personality. Chains with small charms look great on the higher layers, while a larger bauble or medallion is better placed on the lowest chain of the stack and used in moderation. Gold necklaces with rhinestones or gemstones also mesh well with the overall aesthetic. For restrained chain layers that leave some room to play around, consider adding a raw pearl necklace, a colorful beaded necklace, or a customized necklace with your name, a “dog tag” or a meaningful engraving – all very on-trend at the moment.
4. Streamline Your Metals
As much as possible, try to keep your golds to similar shades, especially on thick chains where the hue creates a stronger effect. Yellow gold is particularly popular right now and looks best when combined with like-colored hardware rather than with rose gold or white gold. If you do opt to mix metals, maintain one shade as the “dominant metal” and limit the other one to a supporting role. Keep in mind that antique or vintage gold necklaces may have become tarnished and will brighten considerably with a proper cleaning. (We’ll get to the topic of jewelry care in the next section.)
5. Any Background Works
When it comes to what’s under your layered necklaces, there are no rules. Chain stacks look great on top of crew neck tops, sweaters and turtlenecks (as long as the shorter chains still reach fully around the neck), as well as on bare skin with lower necklines. Don’t shy away from patterns or textures either, although you may want to keep your gold necklaces to more subtle motifs and delicate dimensions if the top you’re wearing is particularly busy.
6. Avoid Tangles
This may seem self-evident, but it bears repeating: a knotted web of necklaces is never a good look. Some pre-made layered sets come with multiple chains attached at the clasp and are weighted to avoid tangles, while other combinations may require occasional mirror check-ins to make sure they’re still hanging properly. To untangle chains, unclasp them all and then try using pins or tweezers to gently ease them apart. Add some baby powder or a little bit of lubricant (such as cooking spray or other oil) to loosen up any especially tight knots, and then be sure to gently wash them off with mild soap and water and dry thoroughly (see below for more tips about cleaning gold jewelry).
How to Care for Your Gold Necklaces
While your jewelry doesn’t necessarily need to last until the next millennium, it pays off to take care of your favorite staples to prolong their shine so you can enjoy all your necklace-layering styles for years to come. Here’s how to safely clean and store your gold jewelry collection. You’ll need to start out by keeping in mind the mix of materials in your necklaces.
Understanding Gold Alloys and Karatages
With so many options on the market, suitable gold chains and stacked necklace sets can be found at a variety of price points, from true gold in a range of karatages, to metal alloys (mixes) and gold-plated pieces. Karatage (K or k) are the measurement which indicates the proportion of gold in an alloy, so for example: 18K gold is 18/24 parts gold. This is why 24K gold is the “finest” gold; it’s 100% or 24/24 parts actual, pure gold. Some jewelry is gold-plated, meaning it has a very thin layer of gold bonded to another metal, while other varieties are “gold filled” with up to 100x more gold bound to the surface, which ensures the piece of jewelry will be more durable and the gold can last longer. Gold-colored and gold-toned jewelry may not have any actual gold in it but, depending on the quality and design, may still be a great choice for your budget.
Be aware that other metals, as well as actual gold or silver, can sometimes appear to leave harmless temporary residue marks on you, due to the interaction (usually friction) between the surface of the jewelry and your skin (which may be covered in makeup, skincare products and/or perspiration). To determine the quality of your piece of jewelry, a jeweler or metals appraiser (such as a coin collector) can test it using special materials. Read more about skin reactions to jewelry in this article from the Jewelers of America.
Taking Care of Real Gold Jewelry
Solid gold jewelry tends to come with a serious price tag, making it a more exclusive commodity that requires special care. Over time, it’s natural for true gold’s characteristic shine to diminish or fade, but regular cleaning will increase its lifespan, keep it sparkling and eliminate any inevitable buildup from makeup and body oils. To clean it, let your gold jewelry soak for a couple hours in warm, soapy water using a gentle dish soap free of fragrances or additives. It’s critical to avoid harsh chemicals, especially chlorine, which weakens gold over time. (White vinegar is also an effective alternative to soap.) After the “bubble bath”, remove the jewelry and rinse with clean water. Opt for a super-soft cloth to dry each piece thoroughly, avoiding paper products which can scratch the surface of the gold.
How to Take Care of Gold-Plated or Gold-Filled Jewelry
If solid gold is a smidge out of your budget, there’s no reason to forego the gold necklace look altogether. Fortunately, gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry is an excellent, more affordablealternative, and no one will ever know the difference! To maintain the luster and brilliance, it’s a good idea to avoid spraying perfume on these pieces and to remove them prior to swimming or working out. This is because sweat and chlorine create chemical reactions that led to tarnishing and a blemished surface.
Keep your gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry clean by mixing a couple drops of mild dishwashing soap with warm water. Rinse the jewelry and then allow it to fully air dry before wearing. You can also buff it with a soft microfiber cloth to remove oils and buildup, which can cause the gold to flake off over time. When done wearing them, store your gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry pieces in separate plastic bags and remove the excess air by squeezing it out before sealing. The lack of oxygen helps to prevent oxidation, keeping the gold plating shiny and bright.
It’s advisable to remove your gold jewelry, no matter the quality, before showering or bathing in order to minimize soap buildup. Keep your pieces stored in a safe container like a jewelry box, storage case or organizer. Not only will this help your favorite precious accessories stay clean and protected, but it will be that much easier to accessorize your next layered necklace look without digging through mounds of knotted strands!
Your unique layered look can be worn on both fancy and casual occasions. Switch it up and try playful versus classic arrangements, depending on your mood. Combining different types of necklaces and chains is a technique that can work with any style, in any era.