Jewelry Sets: The Three Different Levels of Matching

by Rena Klingenberg.

Jewelry Sets: The Three Different Levels of Matching, by Rena Klingenberg, Jewelry Making Journal

What’s your approach to jewelry sets?

Do you prefer a set of matching pieces, or mixing it up a bit?

I’ve come up with these three “matching levels” for jewelry items that are worn together:

1) Completely Matching Jewelry:

Pieces that are made with identical materials and techniques, and look noticeably alike.

Example of completely matching jewelry – from my Leaf and Vine wire bracelet tutorial and earring tutorial:

Jewelry Sets:  The Three Different Levels of Matching - Level 1 Completely Matching, by Rena Klingenberg, Jewelry Making Journal

2) Coordinating Jewelry Pieces:

Pieces that share some characteristics (such as color, shape, or technique) – but are not completely matching.

Example of coordinating jewelry – from my Riveted Pendant tutorial and Rectangle Hoop Earring tutorial:

Jewelry Sets:  The Three Different Levels of Matching - Level 2 Coordinating Jewelry Pieces, by Rena Klingenberg, Jewelry Making Journal

3) Completely Unrelated Pieces:

Pieces that don’t share any characteristics.

Example of completely unrelated jewelry – from my Dangerous Curves Necklace tutorial and Flower Power Button Ring tutorial:

The Three Different Levels of Matching - Level 3 Completely Unrelated Jewelry Pieces, by Rena Klingenberg, Jewelry Making Journal

My Preference

When I wear completely matching jewelry sets, I feel uncomfortable – like I’m wearing someone else’s style.

Instead, I’m more comfortable wearing coordinating pieces that share some characteristics, like these turquoise stone earrings paired with this polymer clay pendant:

Jewelry Sets: The Three Different Levels of Matching, by Rena Klingenberg, Jewelry Making Journal

These turquoise stone earrings are about 25 years older than the polymer clay pendant – and a completely different material. But I love wearing these coordinating pieces together!

What do you prefer?

When it comes to matching jewelry sets,

  • What level of matching do you wear?
  • What do you make?
  • What do your customers prefer?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! 🙂

Older Comments:

Sandy says:

I don’t like to be too matchy-matchy. I want my pieces to “work” together and not clash, but definitely shy away from anything that looks like they were supposed to be a set.

That might end up being coordinating pieces or completely unrelated pieces. Whichever makes me happier on that particular day. 🙂
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Rena Klingenberg says:

That’s exactly how I feel, Sandy! I’ve been given matched jewelry sets a few times over the years, but I wind up wearing the pieces individually – or with other jewelry. But not the complete set together. Somehow it just doesn’t feel like “me” to wear a really matched look.
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Marianne says:

I feel complete jewelry sets are somehow “old-fashioned” even in case of pearI jewelry – it seems like wearing an uniform. In the past 5-6 years I was asked two or three times only to make a complete lampwork necklace-bracelet-earrings set. …but lampwork is too “heavy” genre indeed.
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Natasha says:

September 23, 2014 at 6:37 AM
(Edit)

I like wearing really matchy matchy however I only wear earrings and bracelets, I think earrings and necklace can be a bit too much close together if they are long earrings. This is kind of my identity though, my customers love that they can buy carefully matched pieces and aways comment on what I wear (usually matched or contrasted to my clothes too).
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Jody Lanham says?

Hello, I just wanted to add a comment here, this subject often arises at any one of my sales events: A customer finds a necklace she loves and asks, “do you have earrings to match?” My response is that I rarely make earrings to match a necklace but might have a pair that would go with it nicely. Years ago I did make matching sets a lot but found that quite often a customer wanted only the earrings or only the necklace. So that left part of a set behind to reprice and possibly rework. I stopped making the matching sets but sometimes make earrings that share most of the features of a necklace. Personally it feels like buying from a department store if the set is completely matching, and if people really like handmade jewelry they would want it to look that way. I also think that matching sets are less fashion savvy – check out the covers of popular magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Glamor… the models or celebs looking so trendy never wear matching sets of jewelry. So if it feels like its ok to say so, I will make that observation known to the customer so she feels comfortable with unmatched but coordinating pieces.
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Nelson Jewelry & Gemstones says:

This is an eye opener. I thought that necklace and earrings should match one another to offer a coordinated look. Maybe that is too static. Hmmm. I’ll be interested in seeing other people’s responses.
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Joan says:

Hi. I make matching sets of jewelry only when I am asked to do so by a customer.

As for my own preference, I prefer earrings to coordinate with a necklace but not match it. If the necklace is a show stopper, I pair it with a more subdued earring – or vice versa. Just as each individual is unique, I feel that way about jewelry. 🙂
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Diana says:

Although I don’t sell matching sets, I sometimes make necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that match that are sold separately–especially if I’m working with beads or stones that I love. Like Jody, I find that most of my customers usually don’t want to buy matching sets. I display them in such a way that the customer can see that they match if that’s what they’re looking for.

Personally, I prefer to wear coordinating pieces rather than a matched set.
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Sue T says:

I like my pieces to have a related theme, but not necessarily matching. I often get requests for matching pieces from family though, and as I like to say–you’re wish is my command 🙂
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Anne Mulligan says:

I make and sell some matching sets, since I was getting requests for them. I never wear sets, myself, because I feel that it makes each part of the set less special. If I’m wearing a very detailed pendant, I’ll stick with simple earrings and vice versa.
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Bev Ludlow says:

My sales display and the jewelry I make doesn’t always reflect my personal preference of coordinating rather than matching pieces. I’ve been in the craft show business for over 26 years and find that even if a person doesn’t want to buy a set, especially necklaces or pendants with earrings, they like to see the pieces together.

I always price my pieces separately and again as a set –usually the set price saves a buck or two– so that it is easy to sell them separately.

If the stone is limited, or the necklace is very hard to match up with earrings, I will not sell the earrings unless the necklace has been sold. I have occasionally lost a sale because of this, but it’s rare. I can usually help my customer find something similar in style or color, and I’d much prefer to lose an earring sale than to lose the necklace sale because the potential buyer “needs” the matching earrings.

I almost never worry about matching up rings or bracelets, but have a very large inventory –up to 600 items– so can often, but not always, come up with something that goes with the piece someone wants.

On the other hand, the need to match up all these things and have so much inventory at shows is part of the reason that I am discontinuing craft shows at the end of this year. Twenty-Seven years is long enough.
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Anna Garner says:

So long as the jewelry sings together in harmony, it is all good. I do prefer some carryover from one piece to the other – a color or style that is repeated from one piece of jewelry to the other.
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Diane says:

I mostly wear coordinating, and sometimes matching sets. I often make sets, mostly necklaces and earrings, but will willingly sell them separately if someone does not want the set. That said, often the earrings of the set may have only a stone or similar wire feature to the “matching” piece, thus making it more coordinating that real matchy matchy.
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Carol says:

The # 1 question I get from customers is, “do you have earrings to match”! Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but I often end of making and mailing them if I don’t. I, personally, don’t like to wear matching sets, but just coordinate color and metal. However, my customers are mostly tourists (I’m in FL) and “snowbirds” and they want matching sets. FYI, I do split up sets to sell them if someone just wants the necklace or the earrings.
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Melisa says:

I think matched sets are great for a more formal outfit but you can be a bit more laid back with jewelry when wearing casual clothing. I love wearing coordinating metals but with beads and accents that complement the clothing more than each other.
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Christa says:

I always make matching sets, because that is what my customers want. But I price each piece separately so the customer has a choice and if the customer doesn’t want the whole set I always can sell the left over piece on it’s own.
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Toni says:

My personal preference is coordinating jewelry pieces. However, when I sell sets, I enclose one pair of matching earrings but as a free gift, I enclose a 2nd pair of earrings that will coordinate with the set. That gives the customer the option to choose their own preference.
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Kelly Marra says:

I am a 2 & 3. After too many heavy earrings in the 80s ruined my ear holes, I gravitate towards a big statement necklace, bracelets, fun rings and last but not least…a funky pair of heels…(although most days I work in slippers.) 🙂
However, when I create – I began making matching earrings for most necklaces, because lots of buyers at shows asked me – “Are there earrings for this?” Online – with some necklaces, I have been trying to make a few coordinating pairs, not one specific answer, and I’ll list them separately. Usually easy with the beads left on my palette.
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Aileen Parmenter says:

I like wearing sets. I make coordinating sets and matching sets. Because my pieces are one of a kind I do not sell the earrings separate. I used to but had too many customers asking for matching earrings. If they want the necklace I can always sell the earrings. It is harder the other way around. I suggest that they buy the set and give the unwanted component as a gift. They are priced as a set, so that way I can give them a one time limited “deal”
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Maureen says:

I have a partner in my jewelry business and she always makes matching sets and I never do.

We find that customers sometimes ask for a match and sometimes don’t. We have not noticed that it necessarily brings more sales.

I personally never wear matched sets.
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Cheryl says:

I think it depends on the type of necklace you are making….for pearls,,,I do like it to match…..with maybe minimal pearls on bracelet and earrings….I too have made sets and someone would want just the earrings or the necklace…..so I try to make some items that could work with a necklace or the earrings….There are so many ways that you can match a separate piece with other items. I think it keeps you on your toes that way…:)
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Colleen says:

Hmmm, it all depends on my mood and where I’m going. Casual, I mix it up. Fancy, I tend to match things. It’s hard for me to break out of my conservative look box. Making jewelry has helped me “break out” and explore. I say, have fun and explore!
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Anita Campbell says:

The jewelry sets I have made and feature on Etsy are matched, but after reading all of the comments thus far, and having people at shows be interested in the necklace but not anything else, (and my husband’s advice of breaking up the set and sell separately), I think I will be gravitating more toward complimentary than completely matched. I do try to display my beaded Kumihimo items (necklace and bracelets) together, but sell them separately.

Glad some other person commented on the “old fashioned” aspect 🙂 After reflecting on that, I agree – guess I need to kick myself into the current century.
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Rena Klingenberg says:

Thanks so much to everyone for participating in this poll! Lots of great insights, tips, and perspectives here on levels of jewelry matching.

And of course if you haven’t commented on this yet, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂
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Coral says:

I don’t wear sets myself, and not just because I don’t wear earrings! I tend to have something that tones, or maybe with the same beads, but with a different design/style.
I have made a few sets to sell, but usually find that folk either want the necklace and earrings, which I will sell separately, and then I have to sell the bracelet later, or sometimes the earrings and bracelet, leaving me with the necklace.
Although I don’t really mind doing that, as I make “one offs” I’m not very happy being left with something that does actually match another item. I feel it sort of suggests that maybe each item of my jewellery isn’t a unique design after all. Whilst this wouldn’t matter in a large place, I live on a small Scottish island, and if it was a sale to someone local rather than a holiday maker, it might be noticed!
Sometimes I have customers like me, who don’t have pierced ears and don’t want the earrings, but again, I made the decision that I’d just sell them separately too.
I will no doubt have used the stones in a different design for earrings which will “go” with a necklace, and haven’t found that folk won’t buy a necklace or pendant if there’s not a matching pair of earrings.
It’s interesting just how differently we all approach this issue!
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Mary Ann Preckol says:

Mix’n’Match. That has been around for a long time. It all depends where and when you’re sellling. Winter here in New England jewelry is great for skiers, not snowmobilers, so you’re looking to sell matches in stores, mixes in Christmas craft show.
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Wanda says:

I find that if I make sets that match exactly, people will buy only the earrings or only the bracelet, etc. So I stopped making matching sets. I’ll make things that coordinate well , but matchy matchy, no. The only exception is if a customer buys a piece and then wants something to match exactly.
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Rain says:

I don’t wear matchy-matchy myself, but I have lots of customers who, when they buy a necklace, want matching earrings. Is it my favorite thing to make? No, but it adds on an item to the purchase total.
If it’s something I can’t duplicate – like if the earrings are made from the last two beads of the strand I used for the necklace – I’ll price the necklace and earrings as a set. If they only want the necklace, I’ll sell it without the earrings and give them a little discount.
I also try to have earrings on the table that coordinate with various necklaces for customers that don’t need pieces to match exactly.
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Cynthia says:

When making jewelry, I usually will make a pair of earrings that “go with” the necklace, in case they are wanted. I display & price everything separately, so it’s fine if one sells and one doesn’t.
When wearing jewelry, I almost always will wear jewelry that coordinates with my clothes and each other. I think someone else said “in harmony” – that’s my goal. I used to like matchy-matchy jewelry, until I read a silly list of 5 things that make you look “older”, and “matching jewelry” was on the list (along with wearing baggy clothes and the color black – more changes I need to make – lol).
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motidana says:

A place where the use of bold and bright colored clothes are prevalent , most of my country folks love perfectly matching jewellery . Maybe because the clothes are so eyecatching , specially sarees , most of the time complete matching sets are favourites to harmonize and balance the attire I think . But I personally prefer co-ordinating pieces , rather than a perfect match as I feel it draws attention to the beauty of each piece rather than the total .
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Joybelle says:

I personally do not like to wear matching pieces; however, I find that most clients do. Because of my personal preference I tend not to make sets, call me crazy!
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Judy Pagnusat says:

I do make sets but I also like coordinated pieces not necessarily matching .
I do like wearing all copper or all silver etc.. I llove mixed metal jewelry and like that any one piece will work with a solid of any of the metals in the piece.
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Trish says:

I usually make two pieces that match-necklace and earrings, or earrings and a bracelet, and then some coordinating pieces as well. I don’t often sell the matching set. But it never fails that when I don’t have say, matching earrings, a customer will ask for them. It has encouraged sales when I have offered a small discount to customers that are considering buying matching pieces. I like wearing matching earrings and bracelet, but with a necklace, it is usually a coordinating piece.
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