Mixing Gold and Silver Jewelry

Reader Wendy wrote to me a while back asking about style rules concerning mixed metals. I admitted that I wear silver exclusively – my engagement and wedding rings are white gold – so I never grapple with this question myself. But my instinct was to say that you can go one of four routes: Don’t care, wear all one or the other, mix intentionally, or include a bridging piece.

DON’T CARE
I know many women who have gold wedding rings and wear other jewelry in silver or gold without giving it a single thought. A single gold piece in a silver mix – especially something as small as a wedding ring – is unlikely to seem jarring, so if you can accessorize without thinking about it, do. But if doing that bothers you …

WEAR ALL ONE OR THE OTHER
Wearing all one or the other will look polished and chic, of course. But that limits you to gold, unless you’re willing to take off your wedding ring. So …

MIX INTENTIONALLY
Creating an intentional and harmonious mix of metals mostly just means including more than one in a single area of wear. Mix gold and silver bangles, or wear a thin gold and a thin silver chain layered together. Or …

INCLUDE A BRIDGING PIECE
You could certainly invest in a single piece that contains both gold and silver. There are countless watches out there that tastefully combine the two metals, and I’ve seen lovely bracelets, too. (Like the one shown above!) If you want to wear silver, including the gold-silver item in your outfit as a bridging piece will make your accessories seem beautifully unified.

Do you mix metals? Which of these practices do you employ? Or do you have your own methods? Do tell, if so!

Image courtesy Iris Jewelry Design.

  • Liz of Scholar Style Guide

    I think proximity matters, too. My wedding and engagement rings are platinum, and I favor silver toned watches, since those are frequently worn on my left wrist. I find that it feels less jarring to wear yellow gold bangles on my right arm, and I have several pairs of yellow gold toned earrings that I wear without a second thought. Since my MIL once asked me if I'd like her to get me a bracelet that was both gold and silver "so my metals match," I wonder if this is a generational thing or if it just suggests that I'm more experimental with my style (maybe both).

    I wear a lot of gray, too, and I actually quite like wearing yellow gold toned items with it, though I know most people would opt for silver. I think that qualifies as "intentional" mixing of hues.

    I just don't care for yellow gold enough to buy real gold in yellow, though. It always reminds me of when Aiden buys Carrie Bradshaw a yellow gold ring and she clarifies that she only likes yellow gold for "trendy jewelry" or something similar.

  • Franca

    My engagement ring is white gold, and I always wear a silver ring. I don't wear metal jewellery much apart from that (I prefer wood, plastic, resin and the like) but I do occassionally wear gold shade (not actual gold) brooches and if I'm being completely honest it does bother me a little. Not enough to not wear the brooches or take the silver ring off of course, so I guess I'm a reluctant 'I don't care' person. I like the idea of a bridging piece, i would definietly try that if i wore more metal jewellery.

  • Cynthia

    I can't mix metals. My skin is unpredictably reactive to metals that aren't chemically inert. Essentially, I must stick to sterling silver earwires, or my earlobes start to bubble and smoke like a spell gone wrong in a Harry Potter movie. I suspect I could wear 24K gold, but who has a lot of that sitting around? I'm fairly bohemian though, and I don't have a wedding ring, so I can do what I need to do with sterling.

  • Anonymous

    I wear two rings all the time, one on either hand. Both are yellow gold. I never even gave thought to them "clashing" with my other jewelry, most of which is silver! So, I guess you can put me in the don't care category. I personally do not care for the look of mixed metals in one piece, at least not on me.

  • Casey

    I have to admit I tend to be matchy-matchy; outside of my wedding rings that is. Those are all silver/white gold. But if I'm wearing gold earrings, the other jewelery (bracelets and/or necklace) is 9 times out of 10 also gold. I don't have a lot of pieces that mix the metals, mostly because I don't like the look. I am far more inclined to mix metal with other materials (pearls, textile-based jewelry, etc.) than with other metals. I think I'm just a bit hung up on matching things though! rofl.

    ♥ Casey | blog

  • La Historiadora de Moda

    I agree with Liz that proximity matters. My wedding bands are white gold, so if I want to wear yellow gold I just usually do it somewhere other than my left hand and wrist. I enjoy both the more polished look of all silver or the more eclectic mixing of both.

  • nestra

    I am avowed non-mixer! Silver or white gold (wedding rings) for me only! I think this may have something to so with the fact that growing up my mom wore almost exclusively silver.

  • Erin

    But Sal, you completely ignored BRONZE jewelry, which is my new favorite! I don't care for gold, but other than that, I'll mix any kind, any color of metal or other make of jewelry.

  • Heather Freeman

    Don't forget there are many more metals than gold and silver! Red gold, copper, brass, all have their own distinct tones, and while I personally think gold and silver look a little odd together, throw in one or two more tones and it can look great!

    If you are going to do just two, I think the ratio is important. It looks better (to my mind) to mix a lot of one with just a little of the other than to go anywhere near 50/50. Think of it like mixing any other two bright but contrasting colors, like red and blue. It can be beautiful, or it can look garish, all depending on the ratio.

  • RB

    I have recently begun mixing gold and silver pieces. I find throwing in a third color metal like bronze or blackish metal somehow makes the whole look more harmonious.

  • WendyB

    I mix all the time. Why not? It's not like someone's going to stop me on the street and ticket me for it.

  • overcaffeinated

    Since my wedding and engagement rings are always on my hand, I tend to not even factor them in when choosing my jewelry.

    That said, I usually don't mix metals for the rest of my jewelry with the exception of mixing similar tones (bronze and gold for example).

    Lately, I have tried mixing metals like gold and silver, and I think it looks fine as long as it looks intentional. For example, layered silver and gold necklaces or bracelets. But not a gold necklace and a silver bracelet.

  • Anemone

    I've always been a silver-only girl, but I've recently started incorporating small doses of gold into my collection for pieces I really love. I think it's because I realized my coloring can carry both metals since I'm pale with dark hair, but my skintone is yellow-based. Plus, gold near my face brings out my freckles, which I like.

    Mostly, I will wear silver with one gold piece, like a pendant, and that draws a lot of attention to that one spot/item.

  • Fashion Flirt

    I own a large yellow topaz ring that is set in silver. I will wear it with gold, bronze, copper… Pretty much anything, actually. I guess it is my bridging piece. How I mix metals has everything to do with my outfit, which pieces I'm wearing… So many things to consider!

  • Mrs.M in MI

    I mix my metals everyday! My engagement ring is platinum but my wedding ring is my grandmother's and is yellow gold.

    I originally had my wedding ring rhodium-plated so it matched, but then I missed seeing the engraving inside. So I let go back to yellow gold.

  • Diana

    I mostly don't care, but I am admittedly not a huge jewelry wearer. I do almost always wear a silver ring of some sort and a gold/black leather watch, both at the same time. It's never bothered me.

  • gina

    Someone else already mentioned proximity. Something that I recently picked up from You Look Fab is to mix, but keep things the same in each zone. For example, I might wear gold necklace and earrings but silver bracelet and ring. Even if my boots have silver hardwear, I may still wear gold jewelry above the waist.

  • Dionne

    It's a good thing there's no silver and gold mixing police, because my wedding set is a silver engagement band and a gold wedding band, and I've always liked the look. In fact, my fancier watch is also silver and gold because I like the way my bands and watch play off each other.

    However, most of my metal earrings and necklaces are silver simply because silver near my face flatters my coloring more.

  • Future Lint

    I mix them every day! My nose ring and earrings (which I never change) are both sterling silver. I wear two gold and two silver rings. So them I can throw on whatever gold or silver necklace or brooches match best with the rest of my outfit… although, actually, when I say "gold" I mean brass or fake gold because my skin reacts crazy to real gold…

  • themagicsquarefoundation

    I agree with the other comments about not just wearing silver or gold jewellery! I make a lot of my own jewellery with plated chain, settings and findings, and currently there's quite a big trend in the jewellery-making world for mixing metals. It can look very rich and interesting (when done well). I've got some ace pieces made from recycled high street jewellery with bright silver and gunmetal grey chain.

    I think my favourite will always be loud, brash, bright gold with some fabulous acrylic crystals. But that's just me!

  • Kristin

    I'm a metal mixer. Neither my engagement ring (worn on my right hand) nor my wedding ring (worn on the left) ever come off, so on the days when an outfit just calls for silver jewelry, too bad!

    Honestly, I'm not sure it really matters. As long as the jewelry is fabulous and more importantly makes you feel fabulous, very few people are going to notice that "Oh my god, she's wearing silver and gold! The scandal!"

    And if anyone's scrutinizing me that closely for the sole purpose of criticism, clearly they need more hobbies.

  • lisa

    LOL at Wendy's comment!

    I like to keep my earrings and necklace in the same colour family because they're so close to each other (the proximity thing that the other commenters mentioned), but otherwise I have no qualms about mixing metals.

  • Chelsea

    I used to HATE gold jewelry, back in middle/high school. "That's what old ladies wear!" I declared to my BFFs. But now I enjoy both gold and silver (and white gold) and choose either depending on my ensemble. the warmer toned outfits get more gold, while the cooler tones get silver. my engagement ring is white gold, and even though it doesn't match my gold-colored jewelry (almost all costume), I don't care because it's gorgeous enough that no one will notice :)

  • LindsFM

    I'm definitely in the "mix intentionally" camp. I used to love silver/white gold, but recently I developed a penchant for yellow gold. So I have to wear it all!

  • Ms O

    I mix. My wedding band is white gold and I have another band that's yellow gold. I wear both on my left ring finger and it comes out looking nice. I have no problems mixing; in fact most times I don't notice when I do mix.

  • Niki

    My philosophy: it doesn't have to match; it just goes!
    I wear them all, except silver as I'm very allergic. I do substitute it with stainless steel, which looks just the same. I don't think it matters. I do wear all gold from time to time but I think it's to matchy and rarely do it.

  • Anonymous

    If I am wearing silver I change my yellow gold wedding ring for a white gold one that belonged to my mother. Obsessive compulsive? Yes!

  • Miss Addict

    Sal I am curious did the original question-er specifically mention wedding rings? Your post didn't mention it.

    All yours points are good ones but 3/4 of them are centred around wedding rings.. which I don't have! I am sure other single/unmarried gals out there might want to mix metals for other reasons than just matching their wedding ring (gifts of jewellery from friends in my case where the stones match but the necklace is gold the bracelet is silver)

    Also must wedding rings be gold? I know friends with Platinum and even Wood!

  • Sal

    Miss Addict: She did! But you're right, I completely failed to point that out. I blame it on Galloping Brain Rot.

    My wedding band is white gold, which, to me, reads as "silver"! And I think most of these tips still apply even if you're talking some other piece of jewelry. Especially factoring in the proximity point that many folks have brought up.

  • Erin

    I am a mixer, and my wedding rings incorporate both white and yellow gold. Also, I love rose gold.

  • rb

    I am a mixer. I only wore silver-toned for years, but I owned some 14K and 18K items and never wore them. Recently, my eye for the gold has returned, but I like it bolder, so I had some of my daintier items melted and now have a honkin' gold bangle bracelet. I wear it piled with other thinner gold bangles I already owned, but I would be open to pairing these with silver tone if I had any that looked similar in style. (For me, it would be too much to mix both style and metal tone. I think something has to unify.)

    My wedding rings are platinum and diamond but I feel they go with everything because they are mostly diamond-colored, not silver colored.

    I usually do match the metal tone of my earrings or necklace – I rarely wear both necklace and earrings – to my bracelets, but that's as far as I take it.

    Pearls and stones like jade are nice because I mix them with everything.

  • no more frump

    I love mixing metals now after listening to Stacy & Clinton saying it's okay to do so on What Not To Wear. They also mentioned that wearing all one ages you.

  • Tamar

    This entry couldn't be more timely for me since I just got married and have recently been thinking about how to incorporate my rings (white gold), and the rest of my jewelry (silver/white) and wardrobe (lots of grey) with my Indian wedding pendant (yellow gold), since none of the wedding items can come off! Your entry reminded me of the existence of bridging pieces, and I now think I will wear my pendant on a two-toned chain, to tie everything together and match whatever other jewelry I might decide to wear in the future. Thanks!

  • La Belette Rouge

    I hadn't in the past. Recently I put on a whole bunch off necklaces in order to pick the one I liked best with the outfit. What was shocking is that they all looked great together: silver, gold, pearls, and crystals, It changed my idea about mixing. I am more of a mixing dare-devil now.
    xoxo

  • kirsten anneke

    I've always preferred silver jewelry – that said, my wedding dress had a sash and I asked my grandma if she had a brooch I could borrow to put in the middle of the bow in place of the one that came with the dress – she gave me this BEAUTIFUL gold cameo brooch that she'd gotten from her grandmother! I didn't quite know how to bridge the gap between the brooch and my silver rings plus white gold wedding band and engagement ring, but a friend of mine took me to Target (yeah, I got my wedding jewelry at Target…) and we picked out a few gold and silver pieces and ended up putting a tiny gold pennant onto a silver chain and mixing and matching gold and silver earrings (my ears are double pierced). All thanks (and credit!) go to my friend Kate for showing me how to be adventurous with jewelry!

  • Cynthia

    Mix! Much more interesting, especially if you wear vintage pieces (read: what I wore in high school, lol) and don't forget copper. Lovely!

  • CompassRose

    I'm weirded out by your assumption that all women do or will wear wedding rings (that are gold), Sal! Especially since you point out yourself that yours are white gold. But, uh, not all women are, or will be, or will stay, married, and not all married women wear wedding rings.

    I have not much to say about mixing metals, since I've worn almost no jewellery for a few years. But when I do, it's almost always silver or stones; I've never cared for gold or gold-toned jewellery. And I prefer to wear one very large and odd piece rather than heaping a bit of this and that on every limb, anyway.

    What does bug me is stupid brass-coloured buckles on clothes and shoes. I keep meaning to order one of those silver markers you use.

  • Wendy

    As the original question-er I am delighted to read all your comments on this. My wedding band is gold, and all the jewellery I bought since has been gold or yellow-toned. However, there are so many interesting pieces in silver, that I was starting to feel limited in my choices. It has been a few weeks since sally replied to me, so I have had some time to think about her advice, but I still gear towards not mixing, perhaps until I find the perfect 2-toned watch as a transitioning piece.

  • Sean Grey Hanson

    My girlfriend has always wanted this kind of jewelry. She'd rather go with the simple but great-looking jewelries than those fancy ones.

  • Ivy

    I almost never wear gold, so this was interesting! I always feel like I have to switch most of it out when I wear gold, so I do…but I'm not married, so there's less complications around rings. Though I do wonder what to do now, since I have my Priestess ring that I got when ordained that I rarely leave off. Hmm….

  • Laura

    I have a white gold engagement ring and am planning on getting a brushed gold wedding ring. the compliment one another so well.

  • Annie

    My coloring is warm so I decided to stick with gold looonnngggg ago (with a few rose gold exceptions). Now with the price of gold I’m having to take another look at silver (Rhodium plated, no tarnishing). I appreciate all the comments as I find myself trying to merge the metals which is abit overwhelming.

  • Kim

    Great discussion! I’m a metal mixer. I wear a gold wedding ring and with the diamonds, it almost looks silver. It seems to blend with all my jewelry. If I wear a silver necklace, I’ll pair it with silver earrings and either an all silver watch or silver/gold watch. Same with gold. But, I have Coach purses with silver hardware and a few with gold hardware. I don’t worry about matching them to my jewelry. I’m not a fan of matching everything. It drives me nuts, y’all. I’m a fan of all things ecclectic. It’s more fun. AND I’ve never noticed anyone’s jewely not matching.

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