How do you “layer” a necklace?

Can I pull off dingly-dangly earrings? And what’s all this about shells? Frankie Graddon explores summer jewellery

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By Frankie Graddon on

“How do you do that?” I asked my friend the other day, as I stood behind her in a jewellery shop and watched her pile a series of long golden necklaces around her neck. Artfully nailing this summer’s layered necklace trend (FYI everyone’s doing it), she looked like she’d been skipping through the markets in Mykonos, not wrestling for the last tuna sandwich in Pret. With a disc pendant resting centre chest and a teensy crescent moon snuggling into her collarbone, the effect was bejewelled boho beach babe. A trinket-wearing summer goddess. I want in.

One of this summer’s major jewellery "looks" (see also bright gems, pearls and anything with a shell on it – more on those later), the key to wearing multiple necklaces, she explained, is to layer up chains of different lengths. Start with something short-ish, which sits near the dip in your neck (if you’re buying online, this is around the 16in mark), then go in with something a little longer (18in) and, if you’re going for the triple, finish with a long 20-24in chain. “But how do I stop my five zillion necklaces turning into a knotty mess?” I hear you cry. Well, according to Google, mixing and matching the width of your chains will apparently stop them getting tangled together. Hurrah.



As for which necklace combinations to choose, the aim is to look happily mismatched, not totally random, which, as with all things “effortless”, is annoyingly trickier than you’d think. Try Feather & Stone's gold hammered pendant (size XS) layered with the turquoise pendant in a medium. Or Otiumberg’s wibbly Baroque Pearl pendant with the Crescent Moon necklace. Monica Vinader has a pretty selection of gold, silver and gemstone pendants, which you can buy on a variety of lengths of chains, or thread on to your existing ones. But if you really can’t be bothered, then Topshop sells pre-layered necklaces that do all of the hard work for you.

Anyone who’s anyone is wearing a string of cockles around their neck. It’s all very Splash

As for the dingly-dangly bits, having tried several, my advice would be to avoid beads (a bit Madonna circa 87) and go for discs, coins, charms or even shells.


Yes! She sells seashells by the seashore – shells. While last year was all about pineapples and unicorns, this summer’s cult style hit, along with the Swiss cheese plant (yes, really), is the seashell. First seen on the Prada catwalk a few seasons ago, anyone who’s anyone is wearing a string of cockles around their neck. It’s all very Splash. Unless you’re planning on being marooned on a desert island any time soon, I’d suggest just a touch of the shelly stuff. Mango has a dainty pendant necklace (perfect for aforementioned layering), while & Other Stories is currently doing a pair of mini shell hoops. Etsy is a treasure trove for handmade shelly bargains like these for under a tenner. Successfully striking the balance between utterly naff and totally brilliant are the Isabel Marant seashell hoop earrings, which are selling at a rate of knots. And if you’ve more money than sense, then, according to, the fashion lot are going gaga over Aurelie Bidermann’s blue Merco shell necklace. For that sort of money, though (£370), I’d be tempted to make my own.


Can’t get on board with the crustaceans? Fine. Let’s swiftly move on to earrings. Completing the triptych of our summer-jewellery exploration are jingly-jangly, big-scale earrings. Not only are these big fashion news, they are perfect for distracting from the fact that you haven’t had time/couldn’t be arsed to wash your hair. Tie it back, stick in a pair of dangly earrings and no one is any the wiser. Trust me, I’ve been doing it all week. Coloured gems are enjoying a summery revival, with tropical greens, pinks and blues taking over from plain gold and silver.



My one word of warning with the big earrings thing: beware the swingers. Heavy earrings have a tendency to gain momentum as you walk, meaning that by the time you’ve reached the office, your earlobe has positively taken flight. Save yourself the hassle and keep it light with A Weathered Penny’s Calder earrings (I have the fawn style) or the faux-pearl drop earrings from Uterqüe, which are currently in the sale. For those with multiple piercings (if not, fake it with these crawlers), pop your big earrings in the first holes, then fill up the rest of your ears with teensy hoops or bright, twingly studs. Z for Accessorize is brilliant for both.

Click here for the summer jewellery edit


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