For many of us, the relationship between jewelry and clothing is inversely proportional: as we reduce layers of clothing and shift into peak summer-dressing mode, we start piling extra jewels on to previously concealed body parts. Suddenly, our wrists, ankles, midriffs and décolletage are revealed, ripe to be strung with fine jewels. This summer, the trend for chunky, statement designs is waning in favor of delicate gems and charms on whisker-fine chains that can be layered into a precious labyrinth.
“Fine layers are a little easier to digest for anyone who wants to dip their toe into the layering trend,” says Libby Page, senior market editor at NET-A-PORTER. “While chunkier styles might lend themselves better to evening outfits, finely layered designs are the perfect accessory to a bathing suit or bikini, adding a fashion touch to your beach styling.” Mastering delicate designs this summer are contemporary maestros Yvonne Léon, whose signature designs feature two types of chain to add extra texture to your #neckmess, and Jade Lustig, founder of Jade Trau, whose ‘Penelope’ and ‘Sophisticate’ necklaces feature miniature twinkling diamonds set upon strands of 18-karat gold.
“Delicate pieces complement the airy, flowy styles of summer dressing,” says Geraldine Hu, the maximalist founder of @girl.with.a.diamond.earring. Renowned for her eclectic necklace styling, she regularly pairs 10 necklaces dripping in rainbow charms and kaleidoscopic gems together without batting an eyelid. “They don’t stick to your neck or weigh you down in the heat, and they’re better suited to summer because, unlike in winter, they won’t get lost under layers of thick clothing,” she adds. Hu champions Parisian brand Gigi Clozeau, whose resin-coated bead necklaces with tiny diamonds never fail to spark joy; look to the label’s mood-boosting neon and paintbox brights for an instant hit of dopamine and modern délicatesse.
In this spirit, Kimaï, an Antwerp-based brand co-founded by Sidney Neuhaus and Jessica Warch, creates perfect pieces out of 18-karat recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds, which are intended to be worn every day, no matter your itinerary. “We really believe that your most precious pieces should be worn and loved daily; jewelry can hold so many memories and emotions, so why not wear and celebrate it, rather than keep it hidden away for a special occasion?” says Neuhaus. “We tend to keep our chains and necklaces on the fine side. In summer, I think we want to feel free, light and airy – our pieces are designed to be worn from the beach to the pool to a gala, or anywhere else your summer takes you,” adds Warch.
There is, however, some technique to be mastered in what may seem like a straightforward styling job – delicate chains are a joy to wear but a nightmare to detangle if you sling them into your jewelry box without prior, knot-free planning. “Wearing delicate chains in contrasting lengths, or a combination of fine chains with a thicker style, is less likely to end up in a frustrating snarl,” advises Hu. “For multiple delicate chains, I use a necklace-spacer clasp, an ingenious device to avoid tangling. I also love to add multiple charms or pendants to a single chain – this way, you add the sparkles without the extra tangles,” she adds.
“Maybe it’s the organized side of my personality but, for me, having too many necklaces of the same length means you then just have a single stack,” concurs Page. “Take different lengths and ensure there are different charms and pendants; this is all about variety. Jewelry cases are your best friend, but make sure you’ve enough compartments for one per necklace – and I love Smythson for this.” A final tip? “Always fasten the clasp of each necklace, to avoid knotting,” says Hu.
The layering trend shows no sign of abating, then – rather, it has simply evolved for another season. “I think we like to carry around all the things that are sentimental to us, or simply because they make us happy,” says Hu, when asked why stacking still dominates jewelry styling after a streak of several years. “Perhaps it was a graduation gift, a birthday present, a pendant with a child’s initial, a souvenir from a holiday, a memento of a loved one, or even something beautiful purchased on a whim… stacking jewels is like having all your happy memories with you all the time. And you can’t go wrong wearing something that makes you happy.”
The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown