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How to Layer Necklaces: Beautiful Picks and Helpful Tips

Here's how to create a lovely necklace stack with chains and charms galore (and all without tangling!).

How to layer necklaces: A model wearing a three-necklace stack featuring gold necklaces with charms
Layered necklaces by Pamela Card Jewelry

Stacked necklaces are everywhere these days, from red carpets and runways to social media feeds around the globe. Known as “layered necklaces,” a “neckline stack,” and a “neck mess,” the layered look is red-hot and here to stay. Whether they’re slender, chunky, or super-funky, layering necklaces brings an entirely new dimension to accessorizing to your neckline. It ramps up the drama on your decolletage and turns up the voltage on your vibe.

Looking for guidance on how to layer necklaces? Read on to learn how to layer without tangles and how to get started doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling your neckline getup—and leave it to the creative jewelry makers on Etsy to offer necklaces of all types and stripes for legendary layering.

How to layer necklaces: The bare basics

Silver plated chain necklace SHOP: Silver plated chain necklace from Milgo Awad, $57

The first question stackers-to-be ask is, how many necklaces should I layer at once? The answer is, however many you want. For beginners, an odd number is ideal, because odd numbers always have a middle piece—and the middle of the stack is a great place to begin your necklace-layering journey.

Stagger the lengths

Stacked peony pearl necklace SHOP: Peony No. 2 pearl necklace from Emi Conner Jewelry, $450

The only real fundamental “rule” of necklace layering is that you have to vary the lengths of the necklaces—that’s what produces the “layered” part. If the necklaces are the same length, they’ll get tangled and jumbled—and they’ll trip over each other competing for attention. Layering necklaces of different lengths allows each piece to be seen and appreciated as an individual and as an essential part of the stack.

Once you’ve chosen your middle necklace, pick a shorter one for the top of the stack and a longer one for the bottom. Necklace lengths are somewhat standardized—there’s a little variation around the exact measurements, depending on who you ask—and these lengths even have names:

  • Collar necklaces measure 14 inches or less and fit tightly around the neck. Collar necklaces pair nicely with most necklines, including crew-, scoop-, and v-necks.

  • Chokers are 14 to 16 inches long and rest at the base of your neck, on or just above the clavicle (collarbone.) Like collars, chokers are flattering for most necklines, including asymmetrical, off-the-shoulder, and scoop, square, boat.

  • Princess is the most popular necklace length, measuring 17 to 18 inches. Princess necklaces fall right on or just below the collarbone and are ideal for attaching pendants. You can wear this length with virtually any neckline and for any occasion.

  • Matinee-length necklaces are 20 to 25 inches long and fall below the collarbone but above the bust. They’re a popular length for layering and commonly serve as the anchor for a stack. Matinee-length necklaces are especially ideal for plunging necklines and look equally great with a business suit, LBD, or jeans and a tee.

  • Opera-length necklaces measure 26 to 36 inches and fall just below the bust. They’re typically long enough to wrap around twice to “double up” as a shorter layer in the stack. Opera-length necklaces look particularly chic and dramatic with a high neckline—especially if you attach a big, bold pendant.

  • Rope-length necklaces are 37 inches long or longer and fall somewhere around the waist. Depending on the length, you can wrap it a few times for a shorter, multi-layered look, knot it between your naval and bust for a little kick, or wear it unfettered, layered with other long pieces.

If you have a selection of necklaces that you’d love to layer, but they’re all about the same length, use a chain extender to lengthen one or more of them. You can also purchase adjustable layering necklaces, which are highly versatile—wear them as a choker, princess, or matinee, depending on which link you insert into the clasp.

Mix your metals

Morse code necklaceSHOP: Morse code necklace from Everli Jewelry, from $75

There was a time when gold jewelry was recommended for those with a warm undertone to the skin, while silver was for people with a cool undertone. And mixing metals, like wearing white after Labor Day, was considered taboo.

But nowadays, you can wear whatever metals you want, no matter your “color season.” Whichever metals you have in your necklace collection, you can mix and match them to your heart’s content—gold and silver, copper and pewter, or brass and stainless steel.

You can also find two-toned necklaces and mixed metal necklace sets designed for layering, but if you want to try layering gold necklaces with silver chains (or whatever!) on your own, you can go about it a couple of ways:

  • Mix different metals with the same finish, such as high-polish silver, gold, and stainless steel.
  • Mix different metals and different finishes, such as brushed stainless steel, hammered copper
  • Mix different finishes, such as hammered gold, brushed gold, and high-polish gold, all in the same metal

Layering gold necklaces can get tricky, since gold comes in so many different hues. If you’re looking for color uniformity, a single, multi-layer gold necklace or a gold layered necklace set may be your best bet. But there’s no rule against wearing layered gold necklaces in different colors—don’t be afraid to stack yellow- or rose-gold necklaces with white-, red-, or green-gold ones.

If mixing metals makes you nervous, it’s perfectly fine to start your necklace stacking adventure with pieces in the same metal and same finish—high polish, brushed, or hammered, for example.

How to layer necklaces without tangles

Personalized gold medallion necklace SHOP: Personalized medallion necklace from Mair Berlin, from $75

Tangling is a very real challenge for layered necklace looks, but there are a few things you can do to keep knots and tangles to a minimum:

  • Mix chain weights to help reduce tangling. Pair more delicate chains with thicker ones—they’ll be more likely to stay in their own lanes.
  • Alternatively, if you really want to layer several delicate chains, use a necklace layering clasp, which enables you to attach each necklace to its own separate ring on the clasp.
  • Try pairing a 2-layer necklace with a longer third necklace—or a longer 3-layer necklace with a shorter double-layer necklace. Multi-layer necklaces are designed to mimic a necklace stack—they consist of multiple layers, but they all attach to the same clasp, helping to keep them untangled and in their proper position around the neck.
  • Straighten your necklaces throughout the day—start in the back, and make sure the clasps line up in the center of the nape of your neck. With your fingers, separate the strands in front if they’ve become entangled. Pull pendants, bars, and charms down to the nadir of the chain in front.
  • If your layered chains become tangled or knotted, use a large needle or similar tool to carefully tease them apart.

The bottom line on layering: It’s all about you

Pearl chain necklace SHOP: EVA gold pearl chain necklace from Standing O Accessories, $125

The overarching law of layering is that there are no firm rules (except the one about choosing necklaces in different lengths.) Think of your necklace stack as a form of self-expression rather than worrying about whether you’re “doing it right.” If it looks good to your eyes and it makes you feel like a million bucks, you’re doing it right.

Shop layering necklaces from Etsy shops:

Examples of good layering necklaces from Etsy shops
SHOP Gold coin necklace from Pamela Card Jewelry, from $239; old English letter necklace from Shop Evren, from $120; sterling silver flower charm necklace from Aleishla Jewelry from $70; labradorite layering necklace from Parken Jewelry, from $59; virgo zodiac necklace from Red Cherry Blvd, from $42; engraved tag necklace from Shop Evren, $102

Get more accessory trends and tips:

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Etsy Staff

Etsy staff writers and contributing editors.

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