Scale: How Big or How Small?

You may have noticed that over the years, the scale or size of jewelry goes up and down. I remember the huge plastic jewelry of the 1980’s and the petite chain and crystal necklaces from the 1990’s. (Think Monica and Rachel a la Friends) Currently, jewelry seems to be fairly large scale, though there are many choices when you go shopping. So how do you choose what to buy?

First of all, you need to get a basic understanding of what large, medium and small scale jewelry looks like. Here’s an example shown in necklaces.

large, medium, and small scale necklaces

This same guideline applies to all types of jewelry, from the thinnest of gold bands to the chunky cocktail ring…from simple diamond studs to shoulder-grazing chandelier earrings. Once you can identify the scale of a piece, you next need to decide what would work best on you.

Think about your physical being and how much “space” you occupy in the world. Are you tall? Short? Somewhere in between? And think about your skeletal frame. Just because I’m quite tall, I actually have very small bones, as shown in my tiny wrists and ankles.

Finally, think about the scale of your facial features. Do you have large eyes? A small button nose? A smile to rival Julia Roberts?

Knowing how you visually come across will help you in determining the most inherent jewelry scale for you. By inherent, I mean the scale that is most naturally pleasing and complimentary to you. For me, I can carry pretty large scale jewelry due to my height and the size of my facial features, but I need to mix it with some medium or small scale to balance out my small bones. Often, I can achieve this by layering necklaces and bracelets of different scales. (I will elaborate on how to do this in a future post.)

Now keep in mind that this is how to get an inherent look. You can also create drama by selecting a scale that you wouldn’t normally choose. For example, picture some five foot tall gal who constantly wears large, oversized necklaces–and she looks fabulous! This is because she’s making a dramatic statement with her necklaces. Plus, it may very well be part of her jewelry signature. Here’s a perfect example of creating drama with a large scale necklace:

creating drama with a large scale necklace

So take all this information and look at your jewelry with new eyes. You may get an “ah ha!” or two…

8 thoughts on “Scale: How Big or How Small?”

  1. I love having this blog to come to when I have questions about the jewelry length, etc. It’s like having a reference book. Thanks, Amy!!

  2. Great article. How does neck come into play when looking at necklaces. Is there anything to long or short necks? Any rule of thumb there?

    1. I’m glad you found the information helpful. As for long and short necks, I think if you combine the tips from this article with the one on necklace lengths, it should answer your question. That will help you know where your balance points are, regardless of how long (or short) your neck is. 🙂

  3. this post is such a good reminder how much fun jewelry can be…ever since we have shopped together I NEVER go a day without jewelry. love that you taught me that!

  4. Great article, Amy! I’m definitely a ‘big & bold’ jewelry gal and am loving all that’s available now. But I have my stash of those delicate necklaces from the ’90’s packed away until the current trend of the big and bold passes. Just hope it isn’t in the near future….!

  5. An interesting topic and one I think about often. Though I’m tallish I’m small boned as well and just can’t pull off the really big stuff, especially around my neck and on my ears. I think having to wear glasses affects balance, etc., too. Medium works best for me at this point, often worn with something delicate. As for earrings – studs or small hoops.

    1. Yep–it’s something most people don’t give conscious thought to. But it’s interesting to ponder if you want a more inherent or a more dramatic look.

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