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How to Create a Classic Jewelry Capsule

Let’s talk about how to create a classic jewelry capsule.

I’m frequently asked what you should have on hand to layer accessories into your outfits.

The key here is to keep is simple and easy.

You want pieces you don’t have to think about, that you can throw on and go, and that act as base for other pieces as your collection grows.

Building a basic jewelry collection is like building out your actual wardrobe.

It might take some time to pull it together, depending on how much you want to spend or invest. 

Once you have these pieces or a version of them on hand, you’ll have something to use every time you get dressed.

How to Create a Classic Jewelry Capsule

Before we dive in, a few notes:

First, I ensured all of these were available in gold and white or silver-tone.

Second, remember everyone has different budgets and comfort levels with prices, especially when it comes to jewelry.

I tried to balance quality with affordability with this lineup; most of these are very affordable.

You can shop this post or use it as a checklist of sorts as you create your capsule.

If you have fine pieces, wear them! Stop saving them for a special occasion.

Finally, this is just a baseline once you have these pieces (or versions of them), layer in statement and novelty items, much like you would with your wardrobe.

Earrings

Earrings: “Diamond” Studs, $91 | Ball Studs, $38 | Pearl Studs, $75 | Pearl Dangle, $15 | Hoops, $14

To start, you need a few earrings.

First, studs. Whether you have a pair of natural diamonds or are going with a CZ, a simple pair of studs will work with everything in your closet. While I would love a pair of heirloom quality diamond earrings at some point, I wear these by Swarovski.

Your choice of yellow or white gold, in .5 – 3 ct. I went with three ct because why not? AND I think I have big ears so I can carry it. 

You could also use a pair of simple ball studs. These are nice when you wear a statement necklace and don’t want your earrings to compete.

You can find these anywhere. We’ve been featuring this pair from Uncommon James for under $40.

You can try these from Quince in silver or gold for the same price. 

Next, pearls. 

They may seem old-fashioned, but I’ve been wearing them more and more.

They go with everything from a white tee to a classic black dress. 

I like to wear a classic pair with a twist.

Above, I’m sharing two of my favorites.

First is the Penelope Pearl Stud from Julie Vos for $75. 

Available in two sizes, I wear the large, but I recommend the smaller size for more everyday use.

I also found these “dangle” pearl earrings on Amazon for only $15.

Finally, you need a hoop.

This pair from Pavoli, at the insane price of $14, is available in silver or gold in a range of sizes is Reader Favorite.

I wear the 20 mm size in gold.

Watches

Apple Watch Band, $128 | Watch, $195

If you wear an Apple Watch, you know how they can dress down a look. 

So I love this Kendra Scoot band that instantly turns it into jewelry.

Available in gold, silver, or rose gold for $128. 

If you prefer a traditional watch, you can go crazy here and spend thousands.

But you have many options in a range of price points.

And honestly, I need to be educated more in this area to give real investment timepiece advice.

But I do like a slim profile, mesh band and a little bling. I think this simple tank watch from Olivia Burton (available at Nordstrom) is lovely and just under $200.

Necklaces

Necklaces: Chain, $178 | Delicate, $98 | Tennis, $32 | Layered, $15

You don’t need all these, but these are my go-to’s.

First, a simple, lightweight chain necklace.

I have this one from Mejuri, available in gold or silver, for under $200.

Next, a delicate short option: floating diamonds or pearls (real or faux, it doesn’t matter).

The option above is also from Mejuri, featuring stationed sapphires for under $100.

Next, I’ve wanted a diamond tennis necklace forever, but I don’t have an extra 10K lying around.

So I’m thrilled with this Amazon find for $30. 

It does the trick, adds some sparkle, and can be worn alone or layered. 

Available in yellow or white gold. I also ordered the yellow gold and the white; it’s easy to have both at a price.

Please note the white-gold is a different SKU.

Wrapping up necklaces, you’ll get a lot of wear from a layered necklace set.

Again, you can find versions of this everywhere and infuse your personality into it.

 I like this best-selling, inexpensive initial set from Amazon, available in gold, rose, or silver for $15. 

You can also find custom options on Etsy that you can personalize a million different ways at various prices.

Bracelets

Bracelets: Hinged Bangle, $16 |  Mixed Metal Cuff, $20 | Tennis, $17

Of all the categories, bracelets are my jam.

I layer them on every single day.

Narrowing down to a list of “must-haves, ” I’m going with three items, starting with a hinged bangle.

The design is inspired by the iconic love bracelet (also on my dream wish list).

You can always wear it with everything. It works as an anchor for layering other pieces.

Next up, a cuff.

I like a piece that mixes metals, like this one.

For example, I love gold jewelry, but my wedding bands are platinum, so a piece or two that mixes the two helps create a cohesive look.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with a tennis bracelet.

This one “goes” with the necklace above. It is also available in yellow or white gold, in a range of sizes for $17.

Rings

Rings are super personal.

You might have your wedding set on your left hand; maybe you have something that’s been passed down.

Wear what you have and what is unique to you every day. I don’t think they have to “match” the rest of your jewelry. 

Where I like to have fun is in the statement or cocktail rings.

You could do something simple, like this domed ring from Verishop, for $70 on your right hand.

For me, the gaudier, the better because it contrasts my good taste ;).

I love a bold ring, like this Swarovski Cocktail ring. 

Jewelry Stacker Starter Set, $130

Finally, keep your jewelry safe and organized is important.

You need to see what you have in order to incorporate it into your daily outfits. 

I purchased this stackable jewelry box system from The Container Store a few years ago and absolutely love it.  You’ll see it in many of the photos of my closet.

I keep my everyday pieces and rings in the top box, and more statement pieces in the middle. The bottom is a deeper box perfect for oversized cuffs or even sunglasses. 



How to Create a Classic Jewelry Capsule
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Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Mindy

Saturday 17th of February 2024

Quick question about pearl earrings. I bought the drop pearl earrings from Amazon that you recommended. And I think they’re really cute and I’m not quite sure how to accessorize the rest of my accessories with these earrings. I am more of a minimalist. A simple gold necklace? What kind of bracelet? Thank you for your advice!

Megan Kristel

Saturday 17th of February 2024

If you prefer a more minimal look, I would just let the earrings stand alone. Maybe a thin gold necklace and some stackable gold bracelets - but you don't have to try to match the pearl.

Michele

Friday 16th of February 2024

Thank you for all of your posts. What necklace do you wear with pearl earrings?

Nancy d

Saturday 4th of February 2023

I love the gold Kendra Scott watch band but I’m not paying that ridiculous price I found a dupe at macys Anne Klein watch bands I got the gold link band and great brown leather band as a set for $100. There both very good quality.

Megan Kristel

Saturday 4th of February 2023

I'm glad the post inspired you to find something more within your budget.

Sarah

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

I use the plastic stackable fishing lure boxes for earrings and rings and a screw/nail drawer box for necklaces and bracelets. If you're concerned about moisture, drop in a piece of chalk. You can get them very economically at Menards etc. It's great when you travel too!

Stephanie Anderson

Friday 16th of October 2020

I love this article and the advice about mixing metals. I have a lot of good jewelry and more costume but never seem to wear it since its a jumbled mess in several places. I would love to save this article and share it for future purchases. Thanks so much!

Megan

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Thanks for this post! I own a ton of jewelry but always felt clueless as to how to get that classic look. I will definitely make a checklist based on these items!

Lynn

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Great article. I am happy to say I already own a few pieces similar to the ones you recommend so I only have to add a few fun pieces. A cuff bracelet, so say you. Yes😊. I am a pearl girl and wear them the most! Thank you for always providing sources and various price points.

Aimee

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Great article! Thanks for some affordable pieces to add to my collection - I love the Kendra Scott choker! I find that I wear my diamond studs and simple diamond pendant most often over anything else.

Megan Kristel

Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Thanks Aimee! That "choker" is beautiful!