Piling It On: An Experiment In Personal Style

Upping your stacking and layering game in jewelry has become stronger than ever as a trend and is a style that’s here to stay. It’s another way of playing with our jewelry to achieve more looks and get more mileage out of our wardrobe. It’s also highly personalized, saying something about the wearer. Often times, figuring out what to stack and layer can be challenging, but if you learn to play and have fun, you are sure to come up with a look that feels comfortable and one that you can “own”.

When creating my first stack of antique eternity bands 23 years ago, I had no idea that it would ever be ‘on trend’ or that this would be a look that would explode in all price points and in modern, antique and vintage jewelry. I started with one thin Edwardian marquis and square shaped band with tiny old cut diamonds and built it into a family of six dainty geometric vintage bands to wear on my right ring finger. All in platinum with diamonds, they became my signature look so much so that I was once asked by a hot guy in a restaurant, “Is that how many times you were married?” To which I responded, “No, it’s how many times I wasn’t,” which he thought was funny and proceeded to ask me for dinner.

My first stack of antique and vintage eternity bands, which I still wear today ( the top one was made from one of my mother’s pendants from the ’50s).

This was long before DeBeers launched its ‘Right Hand Ring’ advertising, which targeted confident, self-purchasing career women like me.

Since then I have created different stacks of mixed antique and modern pieces: rings, layered necklaces and bracelets and most recently different looks in the asymmetrical piercings in my ears.

Here I am wearing antique, vintage and modern rings.

Some people believe there is a fine art and skill to layering but I believe that anyone can achieve a look that works for them if they follow some simple guidelines. There really are no rules but a few tips might help you look like a seasoned stacker as opposed to a well-decorated Christmas tree.

Here I’m wearing an antique diamond star on a modern oxidized silver chain layered with an ultra long antique niello chain and niello spider locket and diamond gothic letter B

I have illustrated the article with how I have layered throughout the years and how my look continues to evolve, which is one trick to remember: keep adding to your collection and trying out different styling.

-Mix you favorite rings or pendants with new pieces that you’ve fallen head over heels with to create as you continue to grow your jewelry collection.

Here I use a bar pin on the top layer to hold a padlock and then layer in other pendants. the bottom chain holds some favorite pedants mixed in with sentimental pieces

-Limit the stacking and layering to two parts of your body that are also not too close to each other. For example if you are going to create a stack of rings, then you might want to get an ear party started if you have multiple piercings, or try layering necklaces. You don’t ever want your jewelry to overpower you and by keeping the piled on looks in separate areas of your body, you won’t look overdone.

-When stacking or layering, it’s important to remember that everything doesn’t have to match. Mix your metals, your textures, your gemstones and even your time periods and you will create a look that becomes your signature.

Mixed metals, time periods and textures on my wrist

-Pendant layering should have a focal point, like a favorite pendant or multiple charms on a chain. . Build around that with pieces that have one and half to two-inch differences in length. To avoid tangling of chains, you can vary the weights of the chain and here you can also mix modern and antique. Asymmetric details such as decorative clasps worn in the front or side of a chain, and mixes of shapes and motifs create an unstudied look. You never want it to seem like you are trying too hard. It always works better when there is a casual “I just threw this together” nonchalance to layering and stacking.

Here, once again I use a bar pin as a closure to fix a locket to a heavier antique chain and on a lighter doubled antique chain I wear three pendants at the bottom in the middle and also a few asymmetrically

  • Multiple earrings have become as popular as stacking rings and those who have two, three or four piercings are having fun with mixing and matching earrings: ear climbers, all styles of drops and studs, and cuffs have been trending for the past two years. This look is so strong, that women who only have the requisite one hole in each ear are running out to get more piercings. Our recommendation is to go from longer or bigger to shorter and smaller up the ear. Asymmetry works well here too. For example, an ear climber in one ear and different length linear drops in the other with a stud finishing the look off.

    On this ear, I am wearing an ear climber, on the other ear (not shown I am wearing a three earrings that go from short to longer

  • To update ring stacks, mixing of antique, vintage and modern looks chic and personalized but there should also be a balance. A larger signet, intaglio or cigar band on the middle or pointer or even pinky finger on the hand of ring finger stack creates a look that is lived in. Cocktail rings in vibrant gemstones also work well next to stackers, as does one more delicate ring on every finger on the hand with the stack.

    Here I wear a signet to offset stackers

  • If you want to stack bracelets on the hand with your watch, try stacking those that are tighter on your wrist and won’t roll over the crystal and scratch you timepiece.

Most importantly, experiment. These are only guidelines or tips—because when it comes to this look, which is beginning to endure the test of time, anything goes as long as you can pull it off.