The #1 Reason Your Jewelry Doesn't Look as Expensive as It Could

Do you ever look at someone's necklace stack and think Dang, why don't my necklaces look like that? If the answer to that question is yes, we have a feeling we know exactly why you are unsatisfied with your current jewelry arrangement, and it has everything to do with your chains. Beyond the necklace or bracelet layering itself, one of the biggest keys to making an assortment of any jewelry is quality, not quantity, and when it comes to necklaces specifically, the quality of your chain can take an average pendant from cheap to chic in seconds.

All this quality chain talk is not to say you have to spend thousands of dollars on a chain to make your jewelry look expensive. If you want to do that, that's another story, and we support you fully. For now, we're here to learn about what to look for in a chain of all price points that will read more fine than costume and more chic than cheap. Whether you are one to wear an abundance of simple, delicate chains around your neck and never take them off, or you love swapping out charms on a single statement chain and calling it a day, the kind of chain and the look of it can make or break your look. The jewelry designers ahead are here to explain to you why and how to avoid that exact thing. 



“We love to mix textures and shapes of the chain and spend a lot of time looking at the balance of chain to what it's interacting with. We stress test everything in our studio to make sure that the scale we work in (tiny—we like to call it sparkly air) isn't compromising the durability of a piece. An easily overlooked but really important part of a chain is the clasp. Definitely spend a minute making sure it latches properly, and if your clasp is giving out, replace it! Jewelry does need some low-key maintenance in the same way you might need to have the zipper on a favorite dress replaced. Or, you could go clasp-free. Our welded Forever Sweet Nothing Bracelet is a signature for us—it wears really well over time, and because it is diamond cut that shine will never fade. And no one wants their shine to fade.” — Leigh Plessner, Co-Creative Director at Catbird

"Gold chains are an instant classic and very much at the core of Jemma Wynne's styling ethos, casual luxury. We're all about layering, so we recommend collecting chains in a variety of link types and sizesThe shape and size of a link can really dictate the difference between something that looks a bit cheap, versus something super luxe, so it's important to keep that in mind while you consider what to buy. It's all about the mix to create a look that's effortless but rich." — Jenny Klatt & Stephanie Wynne Lalin, of Jemma Wynne 

"A good chain can make or break you're entire look. You want to look for something weighty; this makes the piece more luxurious. You may end up spending more, but it's worth the investment. My preference is always vintage. You can't go wrong with a Bulgari or Cartier chain from the '70s or '80s. They are guaranteed to be chic forever. I also always love a good ball chain for layering—again, just make sure it has a nice weight to it." — Jill Heller, Vintage Jewelry Expert

“When it comes to chains, it’s all about quality. There’s nothing worse than a dinky chain. You want to feel the weight—it caresses your neck, embraces you. Weighty can still be delicate; it's all about how it feels around your neck. You can have the most beautiful pendant, but if you have it on the wrong chain, it loses its beauty. The chain should always showcase and enhance the pendant.” — Deborah Pagani, Designer



“Perhaps it’s because I’m a little lazy (but probably more because all of my jewelry is worn in honor of a loved one or a treasured moment in my life), but I tend to wear the same jewelry for years. I want to be able to live in it—I sleep in it, shower in it, work out in it. I don’t want to worry about it tarnishing or turning my skin green. So all of my jewelry is solid 14K gold. That’s a non-negotiable for me. You really can’t fake that look.

“Here is a jeweler’s secret for you: To keep your chains from tangling, the secret is to wear different weights and styles. If you wear 2 thin cable chains, they are sure to tangle. But if you wear a thin cable with a thick curb with a twisted rope, they will play nice together.” — Ariel Gordon, Designer + Founder of Ariel Gordon



“When selecting chains, I really prefer a chain that is cleaner and smooth that has tighter links. I think you have to be careful with the diamond cut or cut/textures links because while in certain cases they can work, I find those can often look cheap. The closer the links are together, the heavier and more expensive the chain looks—even in a delicate chain. So I always look for chains that don't have a lot of open space to get that heavier more luxe feel.” — Zoe Chicco, Designer + Founder of Zoe Chicco

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This story was originally published on an earlier date and has since been updated.