Fine Jewelry

The Best Jewels For Bare Skin

When hemlines, sleeves and necklines recede, the body becomes the perfect canvas for gleaming gemstones and precious metals, says CHARLIE BOYD

A strapless dress is the perfect wear-everywhere piece to complement a chunky statement necklace – or three more delicate ones, à la Caroline Daur

Summer dressing means a gear change when it comes to jewelry styling. With more skin on show, endless opportunities to add adornment suddenly open up – and anklets, toe rings, body chains and beads are the way to go this season. “Summer on the horizon means it’s time for the biannual wardrobe switch-up, and our jewelry needs a shake-up too,” says Libby Page, market director at NET-A-PORTER. “The chunky chains layered over knitwear and oversized watches, which feel so right for winter, don’t complement that soon-to-be glistening skin in the same way as layers of ultra-fine chains and dainty floating diamonds,’ she explains.

Before investing in summer-centric jewelry, take some time to think about the hero pieces that will update your outfits, as new-season silhouettes will dictate how much bare skin you have to bejewel. “A tank top is going to be this summer’s ‘it’ item – its simple silhouette makes it the perfect canvas against which jewelry can stand out, and layering precious pieces will elevate its laid-back look,” advises Page. Another must-add to the wish list? “I’ll be investing in a strapless white cotton dress that I’ll pair with a nearly-naked sandal,” explains Page, who cites this as the perfect wear-everywhere dress to combine with gold chains and vibrant beads.

It can help to consider color palettes, too. “This summer, sunset shades of red, orange and yellow are going to be the new neutrals,” says Page. “I’ll be accenting these hues with white diamonds and pops of colorful enamel.” Need some tips on how to summer-proof your jewelry styling? Read our rule book.

Be sure to invest in summer-centric jewelry that will update your outfits, as new-season silhouettes will dictate how much bare skin you have to bejewel

Opt for finer chains

Bare skin needs to breathe; heavy chains can feel claustrophobic in the heat. Sia Taylor’s whisker-fine chains are adorned with ultra-thin circles of 18-karat gold that have a feather-like, fluttering quality, while Stone And Strand’s choker-style chains are light enough to be layered. Elsewhere, Diane Kordas’s ‘Charm’ necklaces feature super-skinny chains embellished with dangling baguette-cut gems that glimmer in the sunshine, while Mateo, Sophie Bille Brahe and Mizuki have peppered pearls onto barely-there chains that make an elegant addition to any #neckmess. The ultimate incarnation of summer styling? Jacquie Aiche’s body chains – crafted from 14-karat gold and set with twinkling diamonds, they add the sexiest hint of scintillation when worn over swimwear.

Choose playful charms

There are no rules when it comes to choosing charms – animals, flowers, names, numbers and hearts are all great ways to personalize your look. Sabbadini has a full house of flora- and fauna-adorned jewels, and its bees, geckos and exotic blooms boasting flashes of bold enamel look irresistible against tanned skin. Foundrae’s interchangeable charm system means you can combine countless expressions of your identity in one piece, while Marlo Laz’s ‘Porte Bonheur’ design delivers the perfect good-luck charm to add into your existing wrist stack. Elsewhere, Yvonne Léon’s vibrant palm tree- and sun-inspired motifs are refreshingly irreverent – consider pairing them with Robinson Pelham’s quirky huggie earrings, which are adorned with everything from a flamingo to a fish.

Experiment with enamel

Bea Bongiasca is the queen of colorful enamel, and her signature squiggly designs add a dose of fun to summer jewelry styling. Elsewhere, Roxanne Assoulin’s ready-made stacks of brick-like beads will appeal to those looking for a ‘one and done’ design, while Kamyen, L’Atelier Nawbar and Sabbadini offer an ultra-precious approach, with enamel set alongside white diamonds. Off to a festival? Look to Marie Lichtenberg and Martha Calvo for fine jewels that will feel on point. Looking to spice up your ring stack? Alice Cicolini’s ‘Candy’ striped bands should be stacked up on your middle finger – they’re the perfect companion to Melissa Kaye’s acid-bright designs featuring neon enamel.

Summer charms are a playful way to personalize your look
Pendants with colored gemstones are perfect for a laid-back, bare-skin, summer look

Bring out the beads

Bare skin calls for a curated edit of carefully chosen gemstones, and nothing says summer quite like a collection of precious beads. Sydney Evan and Carolina Bucci are the two gurus of gemstone beads, with both offering tonal strings in every color of the rainbow – choose designs that reference your birthstone or learn to decipher the properties of different crystals. Andrea Fohrman, another gemstone junkie, offers an array of multi-stone jewelry that epitomizes summer spirit, while Gigi Clozeau’s petite and playful resin beads should be worn 10 at a time.

Indulge in bold gemstones

Colored gems appear even more vibrant in the sunshine and can be strewn across bare skin to striking effect. Irene Neuwirth, Emily P. Wheeler and Retrouvaí are experts in oversized, juicy gems – often working with turquoise, lapis lazuli and aquamarine, while Brent Neale’s rainbow designs are perfect for those who just can’t choose. This season’s cult jewel? A colorful tennis necklace – look to 42 Suns’ pieces, which feature lab-grown emeralds, sapphires and topaz, set into gleaming 14-karat gold.


The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown