Just as women once paired their bags with their shoes and toenail color matched what was on the fingertips, jewelry-wearing required choosing either all gold or all silver.
No more. The hottest trend in summer jewelry is metal-mixing — pairing burnished gunmetal with bright yellow gold, pale rose gold with oxidized silver, rhodium with copper. The look can be seen stacked as bangles, layered as neck chains, dangling from ears — often with multiple metals appearing on the same piece.
"I started noticing my clients wanting to mix gold and silver together for cocktail attire," said Los Angeles jewelry designer Sara Horne. "People are becoming more experimental with their fashion choices, and when you throw different metals together, there's something very approachable about it."
Cocktail parties aside, the look speaks of summer, with variations of mixed metal jewelry looking fetching at the beach, under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl or at any number of music festivals.
"It works so well with current fashion trends," said L.A. jeweler Nancy Newberg. "Prints are so big this season, and that's inspiring women to mix their jewelry as well." Newberg's signature look mixes silver and gold, as she does by combining 14-karat yellow gold hoop earrings with oxidized silver ones ($2,800) or incorporating different metals in chunky hammered chain necklaces (starting at about $2,800). Her jewelry is carried locally at stores including Des Kohan in Los Angeles, Elyse Walker in Pacific Palisades and A'Maree's in Newport Beach, as well as on her website, nancynewberg.com.
New York jeweler Karen Karch's Dragon layered necklace is a gorgeous example of the trend, including moonstone, beige coral, and black and cognac diamonds, in silver, 10-karat rose gold and 18-karat white gold. It sells for $11,000 at www.karenkarch.com.
The mixed-metal trend is being seen in less conventional pieces as well. Daniella Pavicic's Trussit, a line of chains that hold your eyeglasses or sunglasses around your neck, offers styles called Duo Rossi (a combination of rose gold and silver) and Double Truss (rhodium and gold) for $88 each at trussit.com.
Designers say costs have a lot to do with the trend. The price of gold, while fluctuating, remains high, spurring designers to dabble in other metals.
"There are no rules in terms of metals anymore," said Mandy Mitchell, co-founder and curator of www.shopnativela.com an e-commerce site that specializes in homegrown fashion, beauty and accessories. "We're seeing elements of darkened silver thrown in with yellow or rose gold. The previous thinking about not mixing silver and gold has been wiped clean."