The Color Of You: Choosing The Right Jewelry For Your Skin Tone

Although we think of jewelry as neutral territory in fashion, like everything else, there are some pieces that are more suitable for certain skin tones than others.

Probably like many of you, I don’t always put a lot of thought into my daily jewelry choices, instead opting to wear those one or two steadfast and reliable pieces again and again.

I often ask myself why this might be; I certainly have a full range of options at my disposal, having been somewhat of a jewelry magpie over the past several decades. So what is it about those few pieces that I seem to reach for again and again that make them so special?

Upon closer examination, I realized that there was indeed something there; all of the pieces that I tend to wear routinely are ones that really set-off my skin tone. The pure white pearls, the bright gold and silver, all of them are things that look good up against my medium to olive complexion (depending on the time of year).

Will this newfound knowledge keep me from wearing my other pieces? Of course not. But a little self-awareness goes a long way, and the next time I am dressing for a big event or perhaps know that I am going to be photographed, I will probably make my choices accordingly.

Need some help figuring it all out? So did I. Here are a few pointers on how to figure out what your skin tone actually is, and what kind of pieces look good next to it.

Finding Your Skin Tone In 3 Easy Steps

woman holding a black mirror and looking at it

To determine your actual skin tone, it is best to start with a clean face (if you have been using self-tanner, you may want to wait a week or so in order for it to wear off before you attempting this).

Wash off all of your makeup, apply your regular moisturizer, and then wait for at least fifteen minutes. This allows your skin some time to readjust to the temperature and moisture levels of your environment.

Grab a mirror, and stand somewhere where there is a lot of natural light. It doesn’t necessarily have to be direct sunlight, just natural, unfiltered light.

Hold a piece of pure white paper up to your face. If your skin appears to have a pinkish quality to it against the white paper, you have cool undertones in your skin. If it appears to have a yellowish quality, your undertones are warm.

Once you have determined whether you have warm or cool undertones to your skin, the rest is fairly straightforward. Warm undertones look great in warmer colours like gold, reds, oranges, and corals, while cooler tones look great in silver, blues, and greens.

Skin Tone And Jewelry: No Hard And Fast Rules


Now that you are aware of what looks best against your natural complexion, you may find yourself leaning towards certain jewelry pieces, although there are certainly no hard and fast rules when it comes to accessorizing with jewelry.

On darker skinned warm complexions (think olive or black skin), gold can look luxurious and amazing, as do stones with deep jewel-toned colors or bright white pearls.

Lighter, cooler skins look great in silver, platinum, and certain shades of rose gold. Paler gemstones such as Morganite, aquamarine, and pearls in delicate shades of pink, salmon, and grey are also very flattering on lighter, cooler complexions.

However, most of us fall somewhere in-between these two extremes on the skin tone spectrum.

Personally, my skin tone is a very warm, light olive, yet I have very cool, salt and pepper hair, so I am able to bend these “rules” to my liking, as most of you probably will do as well.

Luckily, these days, mixing metals, stones, or textures is no longer considered something to be avoided.

Everything from armloads of stacking bangles in various materials to multiple rings on multiple fingers has had a moment of popularity, so finding the right balance for your personal look is just a matter of experimentation.

Again, there are no hard and fast rules to finding what looks right for you. The only way to really know is to try, try, and try.

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About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog

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