by Chrysa Smith

I am into looks. I admit it. And if everyone were truly honest with themselves and others, they’d admit that they are too. Because whether it’s the new blouse, car or lipstick you purchase, the husband you choose or the house you buy, much of the decision to ‘make it your own’ has very much to do with how it (or he) looks.

So, it’s not surprising then, that I fuss over the decorating details of my home—the mantel, the bookshelves, the chachkas on the tables. And that I do the same with my attire most of the time—purse and shoes to match the outfit, makeup shades to at least, not clash with my outfit and something I’ve had much fun with lately—–mixing and matching jewelry.

It’s something I hadn’t thought about years ago, but a little while back, after working on a jewelry story for a magazine that never ran, I met a great and stylish lady from a jewelry store in South Jersey—McNelis & Sherry in Haddonfield, NJ ( Now, not only was I surprised by a great little town (reminded me of a dry—no wine at lunch here—Princeton), but I learned a bit about jewelry layering that day that has stayed with me ever since.

You know it when you see it. There are some women who can wear five necklaces, eight bracelets, earrings, a watch and not look like the gypsy from long-ago fairy tales. Whatever their talent is, it works. It goes well together. And I’ve begun to discover this skill myself. It takes it’s cue from art and home decorating(which incidentally, I have a certificate in from Temple University that sits on my bookcase). It’s all about combining similar colors or textures.

So, while at McNelis & Sherry, I took note of the various necklaces of varying lengths, the photos of stacked jewelry and a sense of personal style that up until that point, I like to think I had in other areas of fashion, but not jewelry. Ever since, I gained the confidence to mix, match and experiment—and I must say, I like the results.

So, what exactly did I learn? I learned that I could wear a pearl necklace with a silver and gold chain that lies just short of it on my chest. If I put on a gold or silver pair of earrings with a dangling pearl on it, it’s got shtick—it looks like it goes—it adds a sense of personalization to some Mallorca pearls and a necklace I bought in Poland. It looks customized.

I’m doing this daily with bracelets. I pair a pair of silver Brighton bangles with one of those leather and silver bracelets that has some words of wisdom on them. One of mine is woven yellow leather with the word HOPE inscribed. The other is burgundy leather with silver and says, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Maybe I need to remind myself of life’s true little lessons, but with the right outfit, these look great. Summer beaded bracelets and necklaces can also be mixed and matched with outfits and silver or gold jewelry. I also wear some lightweight bangles together with my watch, or wear a silver toe ring when I have a funky skirt and nice pedicure and sandals to show it off. I’ve put on a translucent beaded necklace with pearls and paired a pair of Honora gray freshwater pearls (purchased at the jewelry shop in Haddonfield) with classic pearls. It looks great with a cream or gray outfit. I also layer my wedding ring with my mother’s anniversary band, or mix up her engagement ring with other silver/platinum rings I have—just for fun. It takes me back to when I would sneak into my mom’s jewelry box, look through all the treasures and see what I might like to borrow for the day.

So, maybe you’re so chic, GLAMOUR is taking shots of you for their FASHION DO’s section. If not, empty out your jewelry box on one of these hot, steamy afternoons and have fun playing. You might be surprised to find that even though you never planned it, you’ve got some great pieces that go together as if you had.